Time to take your business from home to the high street

A lot of small businesses start off as something we do from home, especially when we have a family to look after. However, as your business grows you might find that eventually you need to move from your home office to a real, physical office or retail shop. There are several things you need to think about when you start to do this. Before embarking on your journey, be sure to read through this checklist to help you.

Plan early

You don’t want to get to a point where you need office space immediately. You want to be able to take your time and find the perfect thing for you. Therefore, give yourself plenty of notice for finding that office. This way you can hunt around, view several properties and find the right space for your needs. Many people get pushed into hiring a space that is too large for them just because they are in a rush. Don’t fall into this trap.

Internet

Regardless of whether your business is an online one or not, most companies require the use of the internet. Many internet providers offer special deal for businesses and may be able to throw in mobile phone contracts as well. Shop around to find the best deal and before you settle, make sure you have done your research. Is the company you are choosing a reliable one? Have they got a good reputation for customer service and will they offer you the best price on the market. If you talk to someone in their acquisitions department you may also be able to negotiate a special deal with them. Never be afraid to ask for a lower price. Remember that the worst they can say is no!

Setting up a shop

If you are creating a shop rather than an office space, think about the best kind of space to display your goods. Do you need a shop with a large window front so you can showcase your products? Think about ways to make this display appealing to customers who will be walking past on the high street. You should also consider location. What demographic are you trying to reach and where do they tend to shop? Can you rent a space in that area so your core audience can visit you?

Equipment

Any office or shop will need equipment to get started. You will need things like computers and phone lines, and possibly even a till and card reader if you are opening a store. Think about ways you can save money on all of these things. Do your research to find the best available prices. For instance, when it comes to computer equipment, this can end up costing a lot. You don’t have to spend a fortune however on buying the top products. You can buy secondhand or refurbished computers instead. If you need a card reader, you need to consider things like which companies give you the best rates. Some companies will charge obscene amounts just for you to put through a small transaction. Look into payment processing companies like WorldPay and see what the best services are.

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What about serviced offices?

You could save yourself a lot of the hassle of sourcing all the bits and pieces for your office by choosing fully serviced offices instead. Many serviced offices come with everything you need to successfully run your business. This include IT equipment like printers. Imagine all the money you would save on not having to fork out on things like that. It also require minimum effort. You don’t have to worry about getting a cleaning team in. The office managers will take care of all of that for you.

Staff

You may or may not be looking to hire new staff to help you in this new phase of your business. However, if you are looking to hire, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, what roles do you think you can do yourself and where do you think you need help? Secondly, when you come to interviewing, you should make sure you get on well with the person. No one wants to work with people they find difficult or dull. Lastly, consider your applicants’ skills and how they all fit the role. You shouldn’t be afraid to bring people in for a second or third interview to double check they are a good fit. You could even suggest a trial day to see how they handle it.

If you are taking this step towards building your business empire, good luck!

Here are my favourite ideas for growing your business each year

Once you’ve got your business up and running, you quickly learn to cope with family life and work. You have your routines, and you’re really organized to ensure the kids don’t miss out on anything. Sure, there are a few late nights and plenty of early starts. But the thrill of making it work energizes you and pushes you on in your commitment to the business.

So what happens when you realise that your business has real potential? Not only is it generating a good income, but it is already exceeding your forecasts. Is it time to celebrate? Absolutely. Every good thing that comes around should be a personal pat on the back for all your hard work. But, it could also be a sign that you need to make a choice.

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The photo is courtesy of Flickr.com
Continue reading “Here are my favourite ideas for growing your business each year”

How to grow a mum-owned business: Julia tells us her story

I’m Julia, owner of www.kidstravel2.com which specialises in children’s luggage, travel games and family travel accessories.  Helen kindly featured me on Business Plus Baby back in August 2010 and you can read all about how I started up here.

Over 3 years later and KidsTravel2 is still going strong and we have just launched The Happy Skylark (www.thehappyskylark.com) offering holiday gear and unusual travel gifts for grown ups.  Helen invited me back to chat about how I’ve grown the business, the challenges I’ve faced along the way and share any useful tips for other mums setting up and growing a business around bringing up their children. Continue reading “How to grow a mum-owned business: Julia tells us her story”

How to grow your business but still stay true to your audience

As your business grows and changes, it can be difficult to stay true to the people who have been with you from the beginning. So how do you grow but still stay connected with old friends?

You can think of the people around your business as fitting into three groups; your customers, your prospects and your partners. Most important are your customers, after all they have chosen to spend their money with you. Your partners are people who have the ‘ears’ (or emails addresses!) of people who could become your customers one day. Think complementary businesses or anyone who might refer people to you. The third group are your prospects – people who are a good match for your product or service, but who haven’t yet become customers.

All of these people are your audience and it’s important to stay not just in touch with them, but also true to them. There’s no point in sending out a message if it doesn’t ring true when it arrives.

It’s easy to get sidetracked from your original message. Yet if you stay true to your audience your business can expand in surprising and profitable ways. It’s about keeping your old friends and making new ones too. You can be innovative, add new products and services, and still meet the needs of your audience. Here’s how:

Connect with them using social media. Social media has the power to let you be a fly on the wall. You can listen, watch and learn. You can also interact and discuss. These conversations provide valuable information about what your audience needs and wants. Discovering their problems puts you in an ideal situation to be the solution. Don’t just stick with Facebook and Twitter, try new platforms as they come along (such as Pinterest). Comments on your own and other people’s blogs can also be a useful way of picking up opinions.

Ask questions and listen to the answers. As you’re striving to grow your business you are bound to have moments of doubt.  If you don’t know what your audience wants to buy or don’t want to risk the expense of making a mistake, ask them. Send email questionnaires and post surveys on social media sites. Ask your audience the important questions and then listen to the answers.

Stay on top of industry information. Read industry publications and stay on top of trends. This information can help you tap into emerging ideas. It can also help you continue to position yourself as an authority in your industry. When you’re able to discuss the latest news you’re able to continue to provide up-to-date solutions.

Keep in mind the value you’re giving to your audience. Creating a book or course for the sake of having something new is a mistake. After all, nobody is short of information these days! Creating a product because it solves a problem in a new and useful way is a much better approach. Whenever you’re changing your business or adding new products or services, always put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask the question, “What’s in it for me?”

Measure it.  If you don’t know what your audience responds to, how can you continue to give them what they need? Make sure you’ve got Google Analytics set up on your website and schedule time each week or month reviewing the information. Decide what metrics are useful for your business (number visitors to your website, number of sales – whatever allows you to take the pulse of your business the best) and use the data to make smart business building decisions.

Test and try new things. If you are not sure about a new product or service, try a beta test. Release the product to a small group of people and use their feedback and response to improve and grow.

Don’t miss a thing here at Business Plus Baby! Let me keep you up to date with new posts…click here to get my newsletterI’ll also send you a copy of  my e-book Running a business around a family: 9 steps to success.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why You Need To Think About Growing NOW…

Every small business owner is short on time, but if you’re a mum running a business part-time, your time is even tighter. If you add up the hours you have to work, then subtract the time you spend on admin and marketing you may be surprised how few you have left. Worse still, if your normal working day is squeezed into evenings and pre-school hours, you don’t have any spare time to do extra work. You’ve got no contingency at all. Having too much work seems like a dream when you’re just starting out, but that day could arrive faster than you think.

If a big order or project landed in your lap tomorrow, would you be able to handle it?

That’s why you need to think about growing your business now.

Here’s what you could do… Continue reading “Why You Need To Think About Growing NOW…”