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Five cost-effective ways to expand your home-based business

Here are some ideas to help you overcome that plateau

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When starting a home-based small business, you hope it will grow into a thriving empire…or at least a reliable ongoing income source. The key word is "grow." And as your business grows, you'll likely reach a point when you're selling all you can produce without making serious changes to your business plan. Here are some ideas to help you overcome that plateau.

1. Add complementary products or services

If people love your current products or services, develop related items that will also appeal to them. If you sell perfumes, add lotions or bath oils. If you run a lawn business, add tree trimming or pest management. You already have a loyal following who believe in your brand. As long as the additional products or services are logical extensions of that brand, customers are likely to give it a shot. This maximizes your income potential from current contacts while also opening the door to new customers.

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2. Try some new marketing strategies

Home-based business owners are often reluctant to try traditional advertising mediums like television, radio, billboards and print ads – and with good reason since they can be expensive. But they aren't your only marketing options. Distribute an email newsletter to notify customers about promotions and inform them of new products. Encourage them to spread the word about your business by creating a customer referral program. You may also want to consider soliciting speaking engagements. Local civic groups often need speakers for monthly meetings. Develop a topic related to your business expertise, but not exclusively promoting your business. No one wants to sit through a half hour sales pitch!

3. Expand your space

Perhaps your current space is limiting your business growth. Whether you need more room for production, inventory storage or office space, finding the right real estate opportunity can be a real challenge. Commercial spaces usually require long-term leases and are more expensive than comparable residential properties. Instead, expand on your own property. Building a home addition is disruptive and costly, so look into buying a portable storage building. They're often well-insulated and wired for power. Some even come with porches. If you live on a larger plot of land, look into a custom steel building. These can be huge and go up in a matter of days for less than half the cost of traditional construction.

4. Create a website to sell your products

The internet provides a huge opportunity for home-based small business owners. Just imagine how many people from your area go online to search for your types of products or services every day. If your name doesn't show up in those search results, you may as well not exist – as least as far as that potential customer is concerned. Even if you're not tech-savvy, don't despair. An increasing number of online resources make it possible to build and launch your own website quickly and easily. Just be sure to carefully consider the words people are likely to use when searching for your types of products and then naturally integrate them into the titles, page descriptions and content of your site.

5. Hire a commissioned salesperson

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When a salesperson works on commission, they are compensated based on a percentage of the sales they bring in. This means there is little risk to you the business owner. Further, hiring him or her as an independent contractor avoids tax and benefit hassles. The biggest benefit here is that, with someone else dedicated to promoting new sales, you'll be free to focus on other aspects of your business: strategy, marketing, product development, etc. As an added bonus, you'll have someone new to bounce ideas off of, someone who is nearly as motivated to grow the business as you are.

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