Moving a Home-Based Business
Q: I have owned a home-based business for five years. I have seen associates move their businesses out of the house and wonder if I should do the same. There does seem to be a limit on growth being based from home, but I also really like the perks – being near my children, low overhead, and so on. What do I do? — Allison
A: There are two types of home-based businesses, so the first thing to do is decide which camp you fall into. The first type is the home-based business that is started with the intent of keeping it a home business. It may be a mom who, like you, wants to be close to her children, or simply an individual who likes the lack of stress. This is a business built around the home.
The second type of home-based business is the one started from home to keep overhead low, but which will move out of the house as soon as it is financially feasible. Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com from his garage, but Amazon was never intended to be a long-term home-based business. I worked from home for a few years, but moved out when the time was right.
If, as I suspect, your business falls into the first category, that need not limit your growth, but I understand why you think it might. Home-based business owners, like many small business owners, become complacent. But if it's true that "if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got" then home-based business growth requires doing something different. It requires change.
Here then are the Top 5 things home-based business owners can do to help the business grow:
1. Think, and plan, big: Getting caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of filling orders and putting out fires leaves little room for making a Grand Plan, or even a plan that is grand. So the first thing to do is to schedule some time away from the business to daydream:
- Where do you want your business to be at this time next year?
- What changes need to occur for you to have more fun and make more money?
- What steps do you need to take to implement these changes?
2. Double your marketing efforts: I suggest that the biggest rut most of us fall into is the marketing rut, running the same 'ol dog and pony marketing show again and again. If you want your home-based business to grow, you need to mix things up. There are scores of great marketing books. Pick up a few, try some new tricks and reap the rewards.
3. Take a sales course: As a home-based business, you are a salesperson whether you like that part of the job or not. The good news is that sales is a skill that can be learned and honed. So find a sales course, either at a local community college, or at a SCORE office, or online, or somewhere, and take your sales skills to the next level.
4. Play to your strengths: As a home-based business, you have several advantages bigger businesses do not: With a lower overhead you can charge less, and thereby get more business. A smaller operation can usually offer more personalized service. Your turnaround time may be quicker, or your ability to handle emergencies may be better. Be sure present and future clients understand and appreciate these differences.
5. Ramp up your technology: The computer-Internet-technology-revolution of the past 25 years is the biggest change ever for small business. If you are not using tools like wireless networks, software, Web sites, PDAs, laptops and so on to work better, faster, and from everywhere and anywhere, you are missing a great opportunity.
The good news is that your home-based business can shift into overdrive with a few small changes.
Today's Tip: If you are like many small business owners (including myself) handling the financial part of your business probably is not your favorite part of your job. The good news is that there is plenty of business software that can help. Spend some time checking it out. It could make your business life a lot easier.
© 2010 Steven D. Strauss, “America’s small business expert.” www.MrAllBiz.com