By Emily Suess

Are you a home-based entrepreneur who has started a business from what was once just a hobby or a side job you started to make a little extra cash? Going out on a limb here, but I’m betting you really like being your own boss, setting your own hours, and earning a living doing something you love. You might even be wondering how to take your fledgling home start-up to the next level. Here are a few tips for growing your business.

Grow Carefully, Not Quickly

Focus on marketing, selling, and promoting your current products and services before you expand your offerings. It’s less risky and more profitable to perfect the things you are already doing than it is to tack on additional items that may or may not be well received by your customers.

Offer Complementary Products and Services

When it is time to add additional products and services, do it sensibly, making sure that new items complement what you already offer. If you bake and decorate cakes, for example, it seems reasonable to add pastries or cookies to your menu. It might be difficult, however, to get your current customers interested in home décor. Likewise, an accountant might add business tax services to the personal tax services she already provides.

Hire Additional Help

Sometimes people with home-based businesses feel like they have to do it all. But that’s not necessarily the case. You can hire part-time help from your friends and family members if you need help on-site, but you can also outsource other tasks to remote freelancers.

Contract and freelance employees save you money on payroll taxes or medical benefits, while still helping you rev up production and bring in additional income. Plus working with someone on a regular basis gives you an opportunity to collaborate on new ideas and keeps you from feeling like you have to do everything alone.

Create Your USP

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is the thing that sets you apart from the competition. It’s what keeps your current customers loyal and convinces others to give your product or service a try. If you haven’t given much thought to your USP, now’s the time. You need it for marketing your home business if you have dreams of taking it to the next level.

Advertise Your Home Business

In the early stages of launching your business, you might not have advertised much. You probably wanted to keep things small and manageable while you tested the waters. That’s fine for maintaining the status quo, but it won’t do much for growing your business. To expand, you need to reach new people. And one of the best ways to find prospective clients is through advertising. Whether you try out online advertising or sponsor a little league team in your hometown, growth comes from spreading the word about who you are and what you do.

The key to sustainable growth is to plan ahead and avoid expanding too rapidly. What have you done to ramp up your home-based business?