Small is beautiful.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Inch by inch, row by row, that's the way my garden grows.
While such homespun wisdom might be fine for common folk, it can be awfully frustrating for an ambitious homebased business owner determined to take his company to the next level of growth and profitability. Sure, a thriving one- or two-person service business with no inventory, rent or employees can seem like an easy way to make money at first, but when the phone starts ringing off the hook and customers keep coming back for more, homebased business owners who fail to plan often fall victim to their own success. Either they burn out trying to juggle everything themselves or they spend so much time and money hiring people to help them that their profits go down the drain.
Fortunately, there are some ways to take your homebased business to new heights without sacrificing your business's profitability or losing your peace of mind.
Follow these 10 steps to grow your homebased business into the personal and professional success it was meant to be:
1. Focus on a single product or service, and then market it, sell it, promote it-do everything you can to increase sales of that one product or service. While it's tempting to swing for the fences and try to be all things to all people, it's often less risky and more profitable to pick a product or two that you can execute really well and just try to get on base.
Richard Roy, a Sparta, New Jersey landscaper, started a homebased dog-waste removal business called Dr. Pooper Scooper when he got tired of picking up the dog poop from his customers' lawns. Instead of splurging on a retail storefront or an expensive Yellow Pages ad, Roy decided to use his truck as his primary advertising vehicle. Says Roy, "I decorated the truck as a Dalmatian, used full signage and put magnetic business cards on it. By using the truck as my moving billboard, by joining community groups and through word of mouth, I've turned what was once my nightmare into a thriving business serving 100 customers and making 1,100 pickups a week."
Thanks to Dr. Pooper Scooper's success, Roy is now planning to phase out his landscaping business and focus on his new venture full time. "When I scoop the poop, I do it 12 months a year and never have to fix or replace equipment," Roy says. "It's also three time easier than landscaping, and I can do it until I can't walk anymore."
2. Expand your product line to offer complementary products or services. Once you've hit on a product or service that customers really like, don't miss the opportunity to bring out related items to diversify your product line. Not only does that give your customers a wider selection, but it also makes your products more appealing to retailers who typically like to stock a line of products as opposed to a single item.
Meredith LiePelt, who runs a company called Contemporary Baby out of her home in Dublin, Ohio, started off making colorful burp cloths for newborns. Now she's expanded her line to include such "go along" products as receiving blankets, bibs and gift baskets. Says LiePelt, "Our retail customers have enjoyed having more gift-giving options, and our wholesale clients are able to offer their customers a wider selection to choose from."