Whether you’re looking at ideas for selling products online from home, have decided to start selling your handmade novelty items, or are planning to turn your repair hobby into a business, starting a home business is exciting and can be very rewarding. And, knowing that 70 percent of home-based businesses are successful within three years of getting started is reassuring; however, that doesn’t mean that it will be easy or won’t take a lot of hard work, sweat, and tears.
According to other, real entrepreneurs, some of the hardest parts about starting a business include learning to say no, maintaining authenticity, wearing all the hats, and keeping a work-life balance. One of the hardest, though, is scaling the business. Nearly every entrepreneur dreams of taking their business from its roots and growing it into a thriving business, but after a while, it can feel like you’re stuck.
If you’re feeling like you’re ready to take your business to the next step, but the classic cliched advice just isn’t doing the trick, you may want to consider one of the following unexpected things you can do to help your business move forward.
1. Enroll yourself in a self-improvement course
Everybody has room to grow. Even the CEO of a Fortune 500 company could use some improvement. While self-improvement might not seem like it will do your business any good, the fact of the matter is that the better you are, the better your business will be. You are the CEO, the CFO, the CMO, the customer service rep…all of it, so the more you improve yourself, the more you’ll be able to add to and improve your business.
2. Focus on appearances
It sounds vain but taking some time to revamp the appearance of your website, your storefront, and perhaps even yourself can do your business good. You could look at it that people are shallow enough to care about appearances, but it’s more that your appearance projects how you feel about yourself and your business. When you’re well-groomed and well dressed, you feel more confident and project confidence. And the same goes for your business.
3. Take some business classes at night
According to a survey conducted by CNBC and SurveyMonkey, 25 percent of responding business owners obtained only a high school degree or G.E.D. or did not complete high school at all. Although 14 percent of business owners did earn an Associate’s degree and 17 percent did complete some college, less than half of business owners graduated college with a degree or postgraduate degree.
Even those who did complete a degree and obtain higher education could benefit from refreshers, though, so no matter what level of education you’ve received, taking some business classes at night could give you an edge and help you keep your business moving forward when you otherwise feel like things are stagnant.
4. Be transparent
It’s tempting to hide flaws or mistakes, or even to put on a front and try to spin messaging when you want your business to come across a certain way. People usually know when they’re being pitched, though, and being open and transparent can actually do you more good than you might expect. While you don’t need to go overboard, having transparent communication with your customers is a great way to keep things moving forward since they won’t feel like they have wool being pulled over their eyes.
5. Get to know your customers
When you run a small home business, you have an opportunity that other businesses don’t have—you, the owner, visionary, etc., can get to know your customers on an individual and personal level. While you may not have the time to call each one and discuss their personal lives, when you do interact with them, you can get to know them deeper than just as a customer, and when you better connect with them, they’ll be more likely to want to stay loyal customers for a long time and refer their friends and family to you as well.
6. Ask for feedback
It seems obvious, but it’s not always something that business owners think to do. However, with 84 percent of people reporting that they trust online reviews like they trust personal recommendations, feedback is important. Not only can you use it to show potential customers why they should shop with you, but you can also use it to make improvements to your business as well.
7. Get out and socialize
While socializing just for fun might not help your business move forward, socializing for the sake of networking will. Clocking out early and heading to a networking event, or taking a vacation that coincides with a trade show could help you make long-lasting connections that can help you in your current business or future ventures and assist you in driving your business forward towards the goals you have set.
8. Take a break from work
Believe it or not, taking a break from work and taking time to yourself to relax and unwind can help you work better and drive your business forward. When you are only thinking about work, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and eventually wear yourself out. But when you step back and take a break, you can come back with fresh eyes and renewed energy, helping you make progress like you want to.
A business is constant work, no matter what type it is. After a while, though, it may start to feel like you’ve hit a wall and are no longer making progress. If you want to take your business to the next level, you may need to not only follow classic advice but consider getting outside of the box as well.
Have you tried any of the tips above? How have they helped?