Home-based businesses with a sole owner can only grow so much, right? Wrong.
With a little creativity you can keep expanding your home business, without hiring employees or renting an office. Here are seven tips for increasing revenue at your home business while keeping it a one-person show:
1. Use technology. From scheduling newsletters and social-media dispatches to issuing blog-post notifications via email, automate as much as possible. Collaboration tools such as Citrix Systems software can also help you readily pass off or work in the same document with colleagues and consultants without having to send giant email attachments or deal with a courier service. Additionally, video conferencing or call forwarding technology can do wonders for helping your little company appear much bigger -- and more professional.
2. Outsource. These days, freelance marketplaces such as Elance and vWorker.com make it easy -- and relatively inexpensive -- to find contractors for a wide variety of roles, from accountants to virtual secretaries. There's no law that says you have to make official, full-time hires to grow. Increasingly, I'm encountering high-revenue, fast-growing companies that have few, if any, official staffers and are driving growth entirely through contract labor.
3. Watch for opportunities. Entrepreneurs' prime advantage over big companies is the ability to be nimble and shift gears quickly if a new opportunity emerges that might lead to more business. That's what home-based franchisor Patricia Beckman did when she saw a need for a standardized virtual-assistant chain. Now her VA business, Cybertary, has 25 franchisees and is growing.
4. Treat your business like a business. Don't neglect the back-office end of your business. For instance, consider using an online invoice system such as FreshBooks or Intuit's Bill Manager. Being able to systematically track your payments and expenses will not only save you time, it's also more professional in the eyes of customers or clients. Keep regular business hours so clients can rely on you.
5. Invest for growth. Yes, being home based can help reduce overhead, but you still need to put money into the business to keep it thriving. After all, you've got to spend money to make money, remember? And that's true no matter where your business is based.
6. Don't forget your plan. Know your goals for the business and keep your focus on the steps you need to take to achieve those goals. Beckman recommends keeping your business plan nearby and referring to it often. And as plans change, update it.
7. Get out there. Some solopreneurs use being home-based as an excuse to never meet with clients in person. That's a mistake. Get out of that home-office cave -- you can build stronger bonds with clients in face-to-face meetings. Attend networking events to keep growing your rolodex and gain exposure to new ideas.