A home business generally works on very little ongoing costs and often requires relatively less starting capital. For authors or web designers, this could be practically zero capital assuming they already have a computer and Internet connection to work with. There are a number of ways you could make your home business flourish without squandering away your profits. We are going to list out 10 of them and hope that you find good use for most of them.
1. First Things First
Remember that what makes a home business comfortable can also be its downfall: you don’t have a boss. That is to say, you don’t have anyone breathing down your neck to make you work even when you don’t feel up to it. Unless you are truly your own boss, your business will be over before you know it, leave alone flourish in any manner. It becomes especially difficult if you are a freelance writer working from your garage.
Follow a schedule scrupulously and include wearing work clothes while you’re at it. Working in your pyjamas is never a good idea if you are to get into the workday mood. Also, these days, you never know when you are going to be called into a client meeting via Skype and be very visible in all your tousled hair pink pyjama glory. Designate your work hours and work etiquette, and keep to them. Allow holidays and breaks or you’ll go mad trying to turn a profit especially when things are going particularly well.
2. Start Narrow
That is to say, narrow down your products and services to just one or very few. The presumption here is that you are going to be very successful – so successful, in fact, that you’ll not be able to handle on your own all the orders you will be receiving. Consequently, you will be forced to hire people and if this is not done in a planned manner, you are going to show very little profit for your efforts after paying for the hired help (and, possibly, infrastructure). While it is possible to anticipate the growth of your business and plan in advance, too many things could go wrong. It makes sense to start with something that you can handle on your own even if there happens to be a sudden demand for your services. This way, you are going to create a very good reputation for your business and create the foundation for what comes next.
3. What Comes Next
Once you have seen success and have created a reputation for yourself, it is time to diversify. But you are going to do this on your own terms. You will be able to plan everything and execute according to your timeline. You will not have to keep your plans on hold till you show a spurt of success and then call up the people you wanted to hire who may be engaged elsewhere by the time your success has come.
4, 5 & 6. Hiring, Piggybacking and Leveraging: Case Studies
We are not going to take names, but our first example is that of a well known freelance writer who has her own private limited company and just two employees: herself, and a secretary to take the calls (or the client emails). She handles an enormous amount of work and she is able to do this because she has now changed her role from writer to editor, primarily. Handpicked freelancers handle the bulk of the writing assignments and she edits or rewrites them.
A not so well known sales person who deals with cosmetics hooked up with local stores to display what he was selling. The stores could keep a percentage of all sales. A win-win situation, since this person could not possibly reach as wide an audience as that of a well established store with a good reputation. He piggybacked on that and as far as we know, is in the process of building his own showroom.
A home based business that sold special Indian fruit preserves found that there were very few new clients happening. This might have been because of the nature of the products – not everyone was even aware of how delicious these preserves could be. The solution was quite simple: leverage existing clients by selling them more at offer prices. There was one twist in the tale that made this a really good move: the offer posted in the shop said ‘Buy 2 and we’ll hand deliver a 3rd gift wrapped to the person of your choice’. This was done near Easter with a caveat in small print that said ‘only local deliveries free’. The gifts spread the word pretty far and wide about the product and there was a significant increase in sales thereafter.
The takeaway: hiring freelancers (to save on the paperwork and taxes that come with hiring permanent employees), piggybacking on well established businesses, and leveraging existing customers (even if new ones are constantly coming in).
7. Web Presence
Everyone has a website these days and, more importantly, people tend to look you up on the Internet if they hear of you. Register in local directories and create a small website for yourself. Google has an excellent offer for small businesses where you can get a business website for free for one year. Take advantage of that so that more people can find you even without your having to spend on advertisement. If you get a lot of visitors, consider taking orders online, as well (which could help you to expand beyond the local market).
8. Build Your Brand
You will be doing this as you grow, but to do this deliberately will take a bit of effort on your part. At first, offer your services and expertise for free – use your client to find people who might be interested. Non-profits are a good bet, as are local organizations. Once you establish your reputation as an expert, be ready to hand out business cards, literally. Spruce up that website and hire an SEO expert to build a better web presence to dominate at least the local searches. You can afford to do this now because if you have been slow and steady so far, you’ve also made a lot of profit.
9. Expand Further
Move physically to other cities to spread the word about your business. You can hire office space for the duration of your presentation (or workshop – however you wish to name it) and understand if that particular location is good for expansion. However, remember that we have more or less outlined the steps consecutively; if you try to hop ahead before you have established a firm local presence you could very well fall on your face.
10. Final Steps
The previous step should tell you where the lucrative markets are. You might want to open a chain of stores but let’s be realistic: if you are still a small business, you probably don’t have that kind of capital no matter how much you flourished. The next best thing is to go for wholesale distribution, licensing and offering franchise options. If things work out at this final step you will remain a ‘home business’ no longer. You might want to bookmark this article for when that happens just so you could come back and share your success story with our readers!
Allan is an online strategist for Empirecarpetcare.com/ and in his free time, he likes to research on various business strategies to boost business productivity.