Once You're Established: Planning Your Growth.
If you've got a profit-making home business on your hands, the next step is growth -- expansion into new markets and new products. But how can you grow when the physical space you have is so restricted?
A typical problem when your business starts to grow is that you find yourself spending a lot of time on all the small administrative tasks your growth creates, leaving you with less time to do all the extra work you're getting.
The answer is to start outsourcing those small, time-consuming tasks, like bookkeeping, invoicing and the rest. Outsourcing lets you concentrate on what you're best at while getting the other things done by professionals. They'll have a system in place that lets them do what you're taking hours over in a matter of minutes -- after all, it's what they do. Don't forget, though, that you need to hold outsourced work to the same standard of quality you hold your own to, since your customers won't be making the distinction.
Create a Growth Plan.
Remember that business plan you made when you started it all? Well, growing your business isn't that different to starting a new one: you still need to plan ahead, and know what you're doing. Take out your existing business plan and look at what needs to be brought up to date, what still stands, and what needs to be added.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you turn your business plan into a growth plan is this: don't forget your core focus. Tempting as it can be to diversify into all sorts of areas as a way to grow, you don't have experience in these areas -- try to do more of what you know, and keep new things to a minimum.
Financing Your Growth.
While running your business, you might have become frustrated with how much more you could do if you just had a little money to invest. Equity finance is a popular way to raise money to invest in a business. It involves you selling a small share of your company to someone who is interested in investing. They don't have to have any involvement in the running of the business, necessarily -- the only real condition is that you agree to give them a percentage of your profits equal to the percentage of your business that you sold them, known as a dividend.
But Don't Grow Too Fast.
One thing that can be fatal for home businesses is trying to grow too fast. Some people have a tendency to let success go to their head, and will borrow tons of money to expand their business at an amazing rate, only to have a breakdown when they realise that they just can't manage a business that large.
Have You Considered Raising Prices?
If you've got more business than you can handle, that's not expansion -- it's overtrading. You might be doing more work than you need to, when you could just raise your prices. Try out a few different levels, and you'll find the one that gets you a manageable amount of business. It's a simple question of supply and demand: you should be earning the same as you were before or more, but doing less work.
Remember that growing your business doesn't necessarily have to mean getting more customers. You can expand your business financially just by selling more to your existing customers, or providing extra 'premium' services on top of the ones you already provide.
Could You Franchise?
This obviously won't apply to every kind of business, but if you've found a successful formula, you could consider franchising it. Franchising is especially common in the food business, where risk-averse people starting new businesses often want to do something that's tried and tested. You can, effectively, sell your business plan, marketing materials and the experience you've gained in business so far to these people.
Even though you should wait a while before you actually do it, it's worth at least considering whether this could be an option for your business, and starting to standardise everything and get it down to a formula and assets that could be sold on.