Is Your Success Outgrowing Your Nest?

Outgrowing Your NestChar Polanosky has an interesting discussion going on over at Essential Keystrokes regarding business growth. I’ve been in Char’s situation a few times, so I know what a struggle it can be. As I began writing out a long comment, I decided it would be much better as a post.

When it comes to growing and expanding your home-based business, there are some important things to consider. I recommend a 2-step assessment approach to help decide if, when, and how to take your home-based business to the next level.

First Step – What Do You Really Want?

I’m still surprised to find that many home-based entrepreneurs think they have to grow their business to some huge entity. Or, they think they need to stay small and solo forever. Not only is there a middle path, it’s important to consider where you see your business going.

  • Do you want to grow big or stay small?
  • Do you want to have a staff or stay solo?
  • What do you want your role to be (more in step 2)?
  • What is your long term or ultimate goal for your business?

These questions take some serious soul searching to answer. It’s important to make your plans clear, and not just let your business grow blindly, letting things fall as they will.

Second Step – What’s Your Role?

Where do you personally fit into the future of your company? Will you be selling and walking away, staying completely involved, or somewhere in the middle? Here’s what to consider as you begin exploring outsourcing, staff, and joint ventures:

  • What you are good at vs. what you are not.
  • What you like to do vs. what you don’t.
  • What your customers expect from you personally vs. what goes on behind the scenes.
  • What makes you money doing vs. what costs you money to do.

This will help determine what you need to hand off to others. For example, unless you are a lawyer, or a recovering one, outsourcing your legal stuff to an attorney is a good idea (if you can afford it). The same with your accounting.

Another example is Webhosting. You may be quite capable of doing it yourself, but if it’s taking away billable time, and not bringing you in any money, it might be time to find a host.

Don’t Be Afraid of the “E-Word”

So many of the home-based entrepreneurs I’ve known and worked with are terrified of hiring employees. One guy I knew wouldn’t even say the word “employee,” always saying, “don’t even mention the e-word.”

Getting help doesn’t have to mean hiring employees. In my opinion – you should consider these options first:

Work with contractors. There are lots of differences between employees and contractors, but to me this is the most important – when I say “contractors” I mean “experts.” I am referring to independent professionals that you can give work to and not have to direct. For example, freelance programmers, designers, or writers that are self-employed and can complete the work you give to them without you having to hold their hand every step of the way. Freelancers who consider themselves a business and are self-directed are going to be much more beneficial to your business than an employee that you’re trying to pass off as a 1099 for tax purposes. That is just a nightmare in so many ways.

Outsource to experts those things that require expert advice – lawyer, accountant or tax advisor, etc.

Look for opportunities for joint ventures with other professionals in the same or similar fields to help with your workload.

Virtual assistants can be indispensable. The one’s I’ve met and talked to are the epitome of professional, and can make your life so much easier. Stacy Brice’s AssistU is a great place to start.

To Grow or Not to Grow…

As a home-based entrepreneur, much of what you’re selling is you and your expertise. Finding ways to sell more of that expertise, while offloading the burden of other stuff, can be both profitable and rewarding.

Consider your options, and think through what you want your business to become. Think back to why you started it in the first place, and where you saw it going.

What it all comes down to is what you envision for you and your business. Chances are, you know the best bet for you. It may just take some time and reflection to uncover it.


  1. Tony,

    I really appreciate you bringing this discussion here. Your insight is very valuable to me.

    I have a vision for my company, my role in it and a basic time line. The first thing I have to master is understanding that I can not do it all – well.

    My goal between now and June 1 is to outsource some of my overflow work and some of the work that I have taken on that is not necessarily my strong point.

    I am also making a list of the non-design tasks I do and the time they take so I can see if I can streamline some of the processes and outsource as necessary.

    I’ll keep you posted! Thanks again.

  2. Hello Tony,

    Thanks for writing such an excellent article. Thanks for your support of Virtual Assistants (VAs) and educating people on the benefits associated with using a Virtual Assistant.

  3. Char – Sounds like a terrific plan, that you’ve put a lot of thought into. I’m looking forward to hearing how it all turns out.

    Carlos – Glad to do it. The right VA can be extremely valuable to the home-based entrepreneur.

    Viji – Thanks!

  4. Tony, this is a great post – it will help tons of people as they struggle through these decisions. I really like how you start at… the beginning – do you really want/need to grow? Where do you want to end up?

    I am also a huge advocate of the virtual assistant – I learned about it this last year and think its a no-brainer for many.

    The suggestions here are solid.

    Jason Alba
    CEO –

  5. Jason – Thanks. The key is to make a conscious decision and plan about where you want to take your business. Then, just like with everything else with a home-based business, make sure it fits your goals, values, and your life.

  6. Great article – insightful, noteworthy and succinct. You’ve convinced me to outsource those tasks that are taking up too much of my time. Thanks.

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