Branching Out Part One: Multiple Incomes from Your Home-Based Business

branching-outIf you’ve been in business for a while, and you’re passionate about what you do, chances are you’ve come up with lots of ways to expand your business. Or maybe you’re just starting out, and already can see the potential for some other products or services. Carefully considering how, when, and if branching out into other areas is best accomplished, is critical for running a successful home-based business.

Many Eggs, One Nest

Some home businesses just lend themselves well to multiple streams of income. Coaching, consulting, writing, designing, among many others, offer a wide variety of ways to package and sell your knowledge and skills. The key is to know what types of “add-ons” will enhance your business, as well as your reputation, and which ones to avoid. It’s also important to ensure you don’t leech all the value out of your business by “commoditizing” your stuff. So if you’re considering expanding your offerings here are some things to think about:

  1. What to offer? Of all the ideas you have, which gives the most bang for the buck – both to you and your customers? Also consider how much effort is involved. There are only so many hours in the day and you don’t want to rob Peter to pay Paul (or is that Peter and Paul to pay Mary, or John, Paul, and Ringo… I can never remember).
  2. Does what you’re offering provide any real value to your customers? I have lots of ideas that would be fun, or easy, but that don’t provide much to my clients. The goal is to expand your offerings, and if there is no value, nobody’s going to want it. You end up looking like someone just trying to make a buck – any way possible.
  3. Is what you’re offering going to be another source of income or a freebee? Even if item #2 is iffy, free is always good (well, unless it has no value, and it’s crappy). But an even better approach is to offer something of real value for free. It’s a great way to build your brand, show your expertise, and get your message out. Another option is to offer a limited free version, and have an expanded version available for a fee.
  4. What do the add-ons say about your core business? Anything you put out there is going to reflect on your brand and how you’re viewed in the marketplace. Make sure anything that is associated with your business, has the same level of quality that you provide as part of your core services.

When I get asked about expanding, most of the folks I talk to already have a sense of the best way to proceed. My guess is that if you know your business, are passionate about what you do, and focus on providing value, you will know instinctively if a direction is right for you.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the other way of expanding – multiple home-based businesses.