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Challenging the Gospel of Growth — Must Business Grow to Survive?

A cherished  business  doctrine is that  growth  must be a primary  business  purpose: “grow or perish” is a mostly unquestioned truth. At South Mountain we favor certain kinds of  growth , but not expansion for its own sake, which author Edward Abbey described as “the ideology of the cancer cell.” We embrace  growth  to achieve specific goals, but always with consideration of the consequences: it may disrupt and endanger treasured qualities. We look for ways to develop and thrive without enlarging, thereby holding to limited  growth . When we grow, it is by intention rather than in response to demand. We think about “enough” rather than “more”–enough profits to retain and share, enough compensation for all, enough health and well-being, enough time to give our work the attention it deserves, enough communication, enough to manage, enough headaches.

Years ago we were designing a house for new clients. The process was going poorly. Our clients wanted to build at a beautiful spot on top of a hill. We proposed to site the house beside the hilltop, so that the lovely area on top, capped with a huge glacial rock formation with a view, would be preserved. They did not share our perspective. They could not believe, even after we presented convincing photographic evidence, that there was a design solution that would, at once, preserve the cherished hilltop landscape and secure the view they desired. I wondered whether we should end the engagement. Given such a fundamental design disagreement and lack of trust so early in the process, it was doubtful the process would go well. On the other hand, this was a big project, and we were counting on it to provide a significant chunk of our workload for the following year to keep our growing workforce busy.

I brought my partners to the site. We sat on the big rock and considered the problem. They shared my view that our design solution combined responsible use of a beautiful site and sensitivity to our clients’ needs. We understood that if we withdrew from the project at such a late date, we might not be able to replace the work quickly enough and might run short of work sometime the next year.

We mused a bit. The silence was broken by my oldest partner, who speaks bluntly.

“Let’s shitcan it,” he said.

The next day I met with our clients and said, “You know, this isn’t working the way we anticipated. Before we dig the hole deeper, let’s just call it quits.” They were surprised, but after some discussion we agreed that it would be better to part company.

As it turned out, we were lucky, and another opportunity quickly filled the gap. We learned to trust our intuition when it told us not to risk the quality of our work in favor of security and  growth .

Until that time we had responded directly to demand. When work was offered, we accepted it, and when the volume of work required expanded capacity, we grew. This was standard operating procedure and we had no reason to question it. It was thrilling to have the opportunity. But this incident helped us contemplate the effects of  growth , and we began to wonder whether this passive approach made sense for us. We began to examine  growth  rigorously and evaluate the benefits and detriments.

It may seem odd for a company with thirty employees to have a self-conscious concern about  growth . Maybe it’s why we’ve remained so small. While the potential to expand has been steady, we have scrutinized it carefully.

I do not know, from experience, what it would be like if our company were several times–or many times–larger than it is, so it’s hard to talk with certainty about the value of smallness. But I have suspicions. I suspect that we could not retain many of the qualities we value if we were significantly larger. Many ecologists and a few intrepid economists question whether the planet can sustain a global economy that enjoys perpetual  growth , but the idea of individual enterprise  growth  is rarely challenged in the world of  business . I have searched  business  literature and found surprisingly little that questions the advantages of  growth , or that considers optimization of size. In fact, conventional wisdom implies that  small   businesses  are those that just haven’t had greater success yet.

Not that we don’t favor some kinds of expansion–we do. But we do not embrace unrestrained  growth  for its own sake. We grow to achieve specific goals, but we are aware that when we choose to increase in size, we may disrupt and endanger treasured qualities. Such concerns do not imply that we must limit development. Economist Herman Daly makes the distinction by explaining that to grow means to increase in size by the assimilation or accretion of materials, while to develop means to expand or realize the potentialities of; to bring to a fuller, greater, or better state. Our planet, he explains, develops over time without growing, while our economy, a subsystem of the finite and nongrowing earth, must eventually adapt to a similar pattern.

If we apply Daly’s insight to our companies and look at the implications of  growth  and the possibilities for development without expansion, we might conclude that remaining  small , manageable, and familial has concrete value.

One of the few proponents I have found for limiting  business   growth  is Jamie Walters, the author of a book called Big Vision,  Small   Business . She compares the concept to precious jewels: “It’s more a matter of polishing a gem and perfecting its facets, if you will, than of acquiring an ever- expanding number of gems regardless of quality or despite the fact that they might be permanently depleting the mine.”2

The apparent lack of questioning about the nature and benefits of  business   growth , however, may simply indicate that the literature lags behind a changing conventional wisdom. In the lead article in a recent issue of Inc. magazine titled “America’s Favorite Hometown Businesses,” the magazine’s editor-in-chief, George Gendron, says:

Wherever I go these days I run into founders who say that getting big fast is not a part of their business plan. They care about financial performance, but they’re equally devoted to building a company that promotes personal and professional development, that fosters close relationships with their community, and that gives them pride and satisfaction they haven’t been able to find elsewhere. . . . What they lack is business legitimacy. There’s absolutely no reinforcement for such thinking in the mainstream culture, and precious few role models for founders who choose such a path.

There is intense debate within the movement for socially responsible  business  about a parallel  growth-related  issue: how to keep control of socially responsible  businesses  as they grow, and how to keep their original values intact. Scale is a critical issue. Many companies that start off with a mission and find early success feel that they must go public to finance expansion. Once they do, they are vulnerable to buyouts by larger companies and subject to corporate law that requires a publicly held company to prioritize profits for shareholders. The takeover of Ben and Jerry’s by Unilever is the most well-known example, but there are countless others. Many small natural and organic food companies, like Stonyfield Farm, Odwalla, and Cascadian Farm–which have been emblematic of independent, live-your-beliefs-no-matter-the-consequences commerce–are now owned by the likes of Coca-Cola, Groupe Danone, and General Mills. The extent to which their freedom to embed their values in their company and their brand may be compromised by their  growth  is a question.

Faced with such issues, some companies have taken a different approach. Seventh Generation, the Vermont purveyor of environmentally friendly household products, went public in 1993 but saw where that path was leading and was in a position six years later to begin to buy back its stock. The company returned to private ownership and is now charting its own destiny. Patagonia, a pathbreaking environmentally and socially responsible company, has always been privately and very closely held, so when they decided to make a costly shift to organic cotton to satisfy their mission, they were free to take the plunge.

There are no outside investors and no non-employee board members at South Mountain. Each owner is an employee. We decide what kind of business ours will be. The decisions are partly economic and partly philosophical, and the people making them have well-aligned interests. Our considerations have led us to believe that if our  business  practice is not governed by an unquestioned  growth  imperative, we will have greater flexibility and freedom and the character of the  business  will better match our aspirations.

I am not suggesting that every workplace should be modest in scale. An unquestioning attachment to smallness seems as careless as an equivalent affinity for unconsidered expansion. In our case we believe that excessive  growth  may narrow our horizons and limit good things like invention, personal fulfillment, and the overall quality of our workplace and our products. Most people I talk to want these good things in their work but find it hard to resist the tug of other forces more persistent. Too often we tend to grow for increased profits rather than to stabilize and improve proficiency. I am profoundly grateful to have partners who are committed to helping one another resist those forces, in favor of a different direction with other rewards.

Why Grow?

Sometimes frantic  growth , I think, becomes a purpose in itself, or the perversion of other purpose. For example, our purpose might be to make the finest bagel or supply the best mortgage. But why do we need to produce all of either? Why not make just enough? The wish to make the best of a product and the wish to make all of a product may each preclude the possibility of the other. It may be impossible to satisfy all the demand for your excellent product without compromising essential elements of product quality. A different approach would be to learn how to do it, share the learning with others, and thereby encourage the establishment of small bakeries and banks embedded in their locale, well positioned to make the best bagels and mortgages for the people they serve.

Some say that to argue about  growth  in commerce is spurious. Of course you have to grow, they say: “Nature demands  growth  just as  business  does.” I say, “That’s debatable.” Wall Street demands  growth ;  business  does not. Neither does nature. Nature seeks optimized  growth  and imposes limits. In the book Upsizing, author Gunter Pauli points out that if an oak tree grows to 150 feet, it is strong enough to resist wind, wear, and tear. But it doesn’t grow to 1,500 feet, even when nature provides sufficient nutrients. Instead, it provides room for ten other trees. If it grew to 1,500 feet, it would become too fragile and lose its resilience and stability.

Nature has many inherent limits that identify optimal size for different organisms, and we may be better off if we do the same in our organizations and businesses. As business ecologist Paul Hawken once remarked, “Do you want to be a mushroom or an oak tree? Spores beat out acorns every time in  growth  rates, but never in longevity or durability.”

Why do most businesses want to grow? Sometimes there are legitimate reasons that make it necessary in order for a business to survive. Chroma Technology Corp., an employee-owned company in Vermont that manufactures and supplies specialized optical filters for microscopes, must respond to the industry it serves. As the microscope manufacturers grow, they demand more filters. If Chroma can’t supply them, they will lose their accounts. Their position in the supply chain requires  growth .

The Weaver Street Market, located in suburban Washington, D.C., had no intention of expanding, but a large development that combined residential, commercial, and retail uses was completed nearby and its residents wanted a market. They tried to get a major chain to open a store in their area, but none was interested. So the neighborhood asked Weaver Street to open a second market, and six hundred subscribers signed up to finance the start-up. The residents of the community put their money where their mouth was. How could Weaver Street refuse to offer the service?

More often, however, it seems that the pursuit of happiness has become, for many, synonymous with the accumulation of wealth and power. Maybe it’s just because we’ve been led to believe that we’re supposed to grow, supposed to win in the competition of the survival of the fittest.

Our inquiry need not be about  growth  versus no  growth ; it better serves us to think about the quality of  growth . Some things we want to grow and some we do not. We want to increase our responsiveness, our satisfaction, our effectiveness, our reputation, our legacy, our sense of accomplishment, our relevance, our capacity to improve the quality of our products, and our contributions to good lives for our employees and our community. We do not want to increase our waste, our pollution, our unfulfilled commitments, our stress levels, or our callbacks.

Charles Handy thinks broadly about expansion. He believes that  growth  can mean not more of the same but “leaner or deeper,” supporting improvement rather than expansion. Bigness, he maintains, can lead to reduced focus, excessive complexity, and less effective control. He goes on to say:

Once big enough [businesses] can grow better, not bigger. It is a formula which Germany’s mittelstander (small family firms) have tried and tested to great advantage, content to corner and dominate one small niche market, through constant improvement and innovation. Rich enough, and big enough, they concentrate on the pursuit of excellence, for its own sake as much as anything.7

Handy’s assessment is consistent with Daly’s distinction between development and  growth . Opportunities for development without  growth  are legion.

Rule of 150

 Growth  can be an extreme sport. When a company is growing quickly there’s a thrill a minute. It’s the same type of sensation many people seek by climbing a mountain or soaring off a cliff clinging to a hang glider. Some of us are willing to forgo such thrills in our work in exchange for familiarity and stability. Some try to get the best of both, and these people have made important discoveries.

When organizations become large, there is often the concurrent inclination to make small units within the larger structure to maintain qualities like conviviality, effective communication, and flexibility. Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point explores how little changes can have big effects and turn ideas, products, messages, and behaviors into major trends. In the book Gladwell writes about the theories of anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who, in the interest of learning about optimal size, has studied how groups of varying numbers work. A striking collection of examples supports his conclusion that there is a Rule of 150, which says that 150 is the maximum number of people who can share a social relationship with each other. Therefore, organizations work best if they remain within that rough limit.

The number reveals itself in a variety of interesting settings. Dunbar looked at twenty-one different hunter-gatherer societies around the world and found that the average number of people in each village was right around 150. The pattern holds true for military organizations, whose planners have a rule of thumb for the size of a functional fighting unit: 150 to 200 soldiers. Reduced hierarchy, fewer rules, and fewer formalities are required for the group to function as a team if it remains at that size. Group behavior operates on the basis of personal loyalties and relationships in a way that is impossible with larger groups.

I cannot envision our company with 150 or more people. I can almost imagine it with fifty, or maybe sixty. Even now I don’t always remember the names of all the kids of my workmates. Since many people are scattered at different job sites, I may not see someone for weeks. Occasionally it takes months or years to have follow-up conversations to the mutually probing exchanges we had around the time of a person’s hiring. I wish I knew everyone better. I wish I made more time to catch up on people’s lives, and shared more of mine. I wish there were more chances to explore the intricacies–the hips and valleys, the copes and scribes, the successes and failures–of the projects they’re doing.

The pursuit of concentrated power and wealth may be like chasing a porcupine–if you’re not careful, you just might catch it. I’ve come to believe that there are optimal scales for different  businesses  and organizations, that we need to think more broadly about the meaning of  growth , and that the concept of “enough” has a place in our internal debates. As our ownership pool grows, we may have to expand our ability to create individual equity as the larger numbers dilute the distributions. If one of our goals is to extend our influence through  growth , we may have to find inventive new forms of  growth , like observing the Rule of 150 or implementing new forms of franchising. Careful examination and control of  growth  has become a prominent link South Mountain’s chain of values. It’s a tug on the sleeve that has our full attention; the gospel of unrestrained  growth  is not the right doctrine for us.

There’s a story about a fisherman who was sitting on the beach with his wife one afternoon enjoying the surf and the sun. He had enjoyed a big catch that morning, so he came in for the day. A wealthy businessman heard about his success and approached him.

“Why didn’t you keep fishing and bring in twice as much?” he asked.

“Why?” said the fisherman.

“Because you could make more money. Maybe buy another boat and hire some employees.”

“Why?” the fisherman asked again.

“You could keep growing, increase profits, and buy more boats. If you worked long and hard at it after some years you’d grow rich.”

“Why would I want to do that?”

“Because then you and your wife could retire and relax on the beach,” said the businessman.

“But that’s what I’m doing now.”

3 Internet Home Business Ideas and Opportunities

Working online at home has become increasingly popular in today’s world. With the internet enabling people to access information so quickly and easily, most people have used this technology to their advantage effectively. Many are now able to generate a steady flow of income every month doing internet  home   businesses . Although there are thousands of online work you can be a part of, here are 3 internet  home   business   ideas  and opportunities that you should consider when starting your  home   business  today.

Online Surveys

Do you know that you can actually get paid for filling out simple surveys? In fact, many companies today are willing to pay good money for every piece of completed survey you fill out. As companies providing products or services require information about people’s preferences and feedback towards what they are offering, your information would be a great help in allowing them to alter their product or management system to suit the current needs. This means that your honest opinions would be a reflection of what the mass public thinks about a product or service. Thus, by doing simple surveys in the comfort of your home, you will have the opportunity of earning good money if you are willing to put in the necessary effort and commit good time to your work.

Customer Service Operator

If you enjoy managing challenging customers or possess good communication skills, then working as a customer service operator is something that you might be interested in. All you need is a good internet connection and a well linked computer and you are on your way to becoming a customer service operator right in your own home. This job could either involve you answering customer queries regarding a product or service on behalf of the company, or providing technical assistance to customers facing problems with their purchases. In fact, it could be a combination of both. This job usually requires you to multi task and act quickly, so sharpen those skills and you will find that working as a customer service operator from home would be one of the most rewarding experiences you have had.

Affiliate Marketing

There is an increasing trend in affiliating marketing today, as most people have discovered the value behind affiliate marketing. In fact, if done properly and efficiently, one can actually generate thousands of dollars each month with little effort or work done. This job enables you to get paid a commission when you help others sell their products on your website. By joining affiliate programs, you will be tasked to help companies or individuals market and sell their products. In fact, there are many great tips available on the internet provided by successful affiliate marketers, teaching how one can increase traffic to their website using good search engine optimization techniques. By learning them, you will be able to know the tricks to getting people to your site and buying products that can generate a commission for you.

To sum up, these 3 internet  home   business   ideas  and opportunities can be yours to see if you want to make good use of your time at  home  to generate a steady flow of income each month.

How The Hidden Costs of Doing Business For Small Business Owners Works Against Business Growth

In one of my favorite all time business books, Corporate Canaries, the author Gary Sutton has one chapter entitled “You Can’t Outgrow Losses.” This chapter should be a must read for all  small   business  owners to C Suite executive and even the ever growing ranks of independent contractors.

Today, all of these individuals may get a reprieve from a forthcoming piece of Federal legislation. Beginning in 2013, all businesses must not only report services using the 1099 form, but also purchases using the 1099 above $500 to a single vendor. This compliance requirement was bundled in the massive Health Care reform bill of which much was unread by those who voted to accept it. And may face repeal given the outrage by businesses who will be facing additional costs just to manage all the accounting and reporting.

The 1099 compliance is just one of many hidden costs of doing business. For example, the  Small   Business  Administration (SBA) in 2006 revealed the average  small   business  person spent $7,646 per employee in compliance costs specific to all government regulations. Compliance costs for US businesses are greater than any other country and help to keep them uncompetitive.

Since many US businesses have less than 25 employees, sometimes they forget to determine the hidden costs of doing business. These costs range from the obvious one of telephone and Internet charges to the not so obvious ones such updating customer databases or tracking inventory or compliance costs. What happens is these business processes become like the chair that has sat in the corner for many years, never being moved because it was always there.

Years ago I read a story about a young woman who asked her mother why did they cut the ends off the roast. The mother responded because that is how your grandmother cooked the roast. To satisfy her curiosity, the daughter asked her grandmother why the ends of the roast were cut off. Grandmother quickly responded with “To fit into the only roasting pan I had at the time.”

Awareness, as with the granddaughter, is part of doing business and helps to find all those hidden costs. Then a continuous improvement plan can be implemented to maintain or better yet reduce those costs which are much like a dripping faucet draining those much desired profit dollars.

Business is much more than the ever present goal to increase sales. Both factors of the business formula revenue less costs equal profits must be continually examined. By knowing the hidden costs can help you truly Be the Red Jacket in the marketplace.

Internet Home Business Ideas – No Cost to Low Cost Online Business and Marketing? Myth Or Fact

There are many self-proclaimed “gurus” out there that claim you do not need much money to start off your internet career. This often leads new marketers into believing they can make a fortune online with only a twenty dollar investment into an internet  home   business   idea .

Of course, there are the “rags to riches” stories to catch your eye, but I have found that the average successful online marketer started with a few thousand dollars to “play” with. Comparatively speaking, this is a very low amount to invest in your business, whether it’s located online or in a more tangible brick and mortar building.

The average cost to start a brick and mortar business like a small espresso and coffee shop will cost in the upwards of $15,000 for the equipment alone. If you find the right online business you will spend anywhere from $800 to $2000.

Yes, you can make some money working 8 – 12 hours a day with a coffee shop but imagine making huge amounts of money 24 hours a day on autopilot.

You have probably heard the old cliché it takes money to make money. Well I have found in my experience that this statement can be both true and false in internet  home   business  opportunitiies. Now you may be asking, “How can this statement be both true and false?”

Let me show you:

The only ways to invest in your business with Money and Time.

Here are a few ways to invest:

Your Money – Here dollars and cents is how you will build your business.

o Pay Per Click – Buying keywords that people searching the internet type in when they are looking for a solution to something. You can expect to pay anywhere from a few cents to $2 – $3+ a keyword. Depending on how you set up your campaign you can spend anywhere from $200.00 – $1000+/month.

o Banner Ads – Placing banner ads on web sites that already achieve high rankings in keyword categories that want to target. If a website owner has a good amount of traffic they may charge you anywhere from $150 to $500/mo to place an ad on their site.

o Print Ads – Purchase display ads in magazines and newspapers that target readers in your market. Good sales copy is a must. It is hard to say exactly how much this will cost due to a number of variables. Variables such as the size of ads, circulation, color and location to name a few…

o Classified Ads Under Your Chosen Business Category- Very effective for targeting people who are actively looking for solutions. You can buy classified advertising in bulk through services like nationwide newspapers – or you can buy individual papers on a city by city basis. I recommend purchasing in weekly classifieds rather than daily, you will get longer ad placement for your dollars. Most classifieds charge by number of lines in your ad. A decent range is $2.00 – $5.00/ line.

o Buy Leads – Buy names, phone numbers, and email addresses of people who want to find know about your product or service. There are all sorts of leads to choose from varying from ‘real time’ to aged leads. Results depend on the quality of the lead and your ability to sound like a real person. Depending on the service you can pay anywhere from $100 for 1000 to $30 for 100 leads.

o Direct Mail – Works well but can be expensive. You can obtain leads and use direct mail as a follow up. Your production and sales copy is critical. With companies like Adswift you can print and mail postcards for as little as .49/card. To get response from a customer it may take at least 5 – 7 contacts by direct mail.

o Billboards – If you have the money and want a person’ undivided attention as they drive to their jobs every morning (and then return every afternoon) you might consider a billboard. Typically, some markets can get you a large billboard on a major artery for $1,000 for 30 days. Rates depend on market size and traffic.

o Radio Advertising – Buy radio spots and have them professionally voiced. It is cheaper to buy times late at night, but buying a ‘day’ package that gives you a bit of every listening period can be good too.

o Cable TV advertising On Listings Channel – Like the radio spots, but this time with TV. You can expect to pay a little more for the commercial you produce, but the cost per spot is typically quite reasonable if you advertise in something like the TV listings that scroll up and down the page.

Your Time – Trading your dollar to invest for time

o Press Releases – You can do unlimited press releases online. Prior to the release of your product or service you can submit a release to several sites getting the buzz out. 2-3 hours

o Blogs – Blogs are frequently updated ‘web journals’ that are maintained by people who specialize in something. Blogs talk about and openly discuss specialized themes like making money online – or stay at home moms online. 1-2 hours

o Article Marketing – In its simplest form, this is advertising where you can write short, unique, relevant articles related to whatever you want to talk about: making money online, how to make money online, the 7 dangers of marketing online, etc. 30mins – 1 hour.

o Forums – On line forums are basically online discussion groups or chat rooms or bulletin boards that have a following with various people. Forums can be a great way to brand yourself as an expert in a subject, or build credibility with people who frequent a particular forum.. The key to success is making a great contribution and building online relationships with the other people who are part of the forum that you join. Takes some time – but can be well worth it 1 – 2 hours

o Video Marketing – Marketing yourself online with video. Have you heard of YouTube? Enough said. 2 – 3 hours

o Free Online Classifieds – There are a ton of free online classified areas on the internet. Typically, you get what you pay for. You have to post in a lot of them to get any kind of result. 2-3 hours

o Craig’s List – Craig’s list is a network of online urban communities featuring free online classified advertisement in a endless number of areas including jobs offers and biz ops. There are classifieds from several hundred cities on Craig’s List worldwide. It has been said that they get about 9 billion page views each month – and about 25 million Americans use it each month. You can target by area or by city. 2 – 3 hours.

o Squidoo – Squidoo is kind of like a wiki, only when you create a page (called a lens) you are the only one who can edit it.Then you split the profits from the money made by that page . You can use it to create almost any kind of page. 1 – 2 hours

5 Growth Strategies For Rapid Results In Your Small Business

Whether you are looking to propel you  business  quickly through the start-up phase, or are focused on taking your stabilized  business  through the next  growth  phase, these 5 strategies will assist most  business  in discovering the next sweet spot.

1. Cross-over into new markets.

As a savvy business owner you may have already identified your ideal client and have built a following within your chose market. Once you have established yourself in your niche it is critical to continued success to find other prospects in cross-over markets. This doesn’t mean “sell to the masses.” Instead you must look for other sub-markets in larger markets that mirror your chosen niche.

As an example, say you currently offer specialized scheduling software to warehousing clients for managing incoming over the road shipments. What other markets would benefit from your product or service? How about cattle ranchers selling and buying cattle in large quantities and from many different organizations? What about an auctioneer looking to manage inventories from estate and bank sales? You get the idea, brainstorm other markets that would benefit from the core value your product or service delivers. You may have to tweak for some minor nuances but there should still be consistency within your core product or service offering.

2. Introduce an upgraded “new and improved” version of a previously successful offering.

Don’t reinvent yourself completely when often a simple make-over will do. As your product or service finds a home with a growing number of clients, look for ways to make it better and deliver continued value. Often times the investment in the product innovations won’t be nearly as costly as the original R&D associated with the first product offering. This will offer you the ability to market new features, enhancements, and benefits to existing clients while offering them an upgrade at a reduced price. Given you have less of an investment in the newer version it becomes a win – win for both. You are able to offer continued value at a reduced price to existing clients.

3. Seek out joint-venture marketing opportunities.

Look for strategic alliances among businesses that offer products or services to your target market. For instance, if you own the market for high-end salon services in your geographic region, look for other partners who service the same niche. An example may include the upscale florist down the road. Joint venture with them and share marketing efforts between the organizations as you are sure to service clients exclusive to each other yet interested in similar services.

4. Partner with your competition.

Though this sounds counter-productive, partnering with your largest competitor can often be a win-win proposition for both. In spite of your similarities there are often key differences that set you apart from your key competitor. Look for off-setting and complementing competencies and work out a solid agreement benefiting both parties in a cross marketing strategy. Obviously there has to be an equal benefit to both parties, but if researched and handled correctly the benefits can be huge for both parties involved.

5. Invest in productivity.

As your business builds momentum look to capitalize on improving on your current production and operations. It is easy to get complacent with current processes when things are going smoothly, but often times investments in capital improvements will yield higher margins and increased profits. Don’t lose out on internal profit opportunities just because things are going well. Many business will wait until the markets begin to recede before looking for ways to improve efficiency and cut costs. Be proactive and manage your business during boom times as if it were a bust and your profitability and momentum will drastically improve.

 Growth  strategies can be as unique as the individual  businesses  in the marketplace, but common characteristics abound throughout. Implement these 5 proven  growth  strategies in your next planning session and I know you will find continued  growth  in the coming quarters.

Best Home Based Business Ideas – Opportunities

At this moment there are groups of people all over the world making money on the Internet, either small work from  home  based  businesses  to big corporations making Millions a year.

New technologies and tools have opened up worlds of opportunity that make it easier and cheaper than ever before to start a  home  based online  business . Most people think that making money online is a big scam, and that it is not possible to really make money online, however they are very wrong – think of eBay and online shopping, every-time you buy something online, another person has just made money.

Now days there are so many different ways to make money online, a few of best  home  based  business   ideas  are;

  • Taking paid surveys.
  • Getting paid to watch movie trailers.
  • Selling products as an affiliate.
  • Selling products on eBay.

In fact now days you are not restricted to only one form of making money online, the more income streams a person has, the more successful you will be.

What Tools are required

Any lap- top or home computer, it does not even have to be a top of the range model either.

An Internet connection, preferable with broadband, but dial up will work as well.

You can start Making Money Online with as little $50 a month.

The following steps are what is required if you are willing to start your own best  home  based  business   ideas  venture , to get you up and running in a matter of days, with the least amount of capital required.

  • Choose a suitable domain name.
  • Set up a hosting account.
  • Design your web site or get a ready made Web Site.
  • Put it all online.
  • Optimise and test your web site.

What happens if you cannot afford $50

Well that is not a problem either, because this must be the only business in the world where its possible to start your own  home  based  business , with out you spending a single cent – that’s right not single cent or penny. With the start of Web2.0 and the social craze on the Internet at the moment, it is even easier than ever before to make money online.

Some of the more popular ways to get your  home  base  business  started online today is.

  • Start selling on eBay
  • Start a Blog.
  • Have a Squidoo Lens
  • Have a HubPage

You can take advantage of any of these tools to make your first online profits in your  home  based  business  today.

What happens if you don’t have anything to sell.

Well that is not a problem either, in-fact even if you don’t have a product, don’t have a website or domain name, you can still make money online with your best  home  based  business   ideas  and opportunities company.

This is achieved with Affiliate marketing, there is hundred of products to sell in thousands of different markets, just have a look at the following vendors;

  • Clickbank
  • Paydotcom
  • Commission Junction


As you can see, making money online with a  home  based  business  is not hard and in-fact all you have to do is try it, not only will you be teaching yourself a new skill, you will also be able to make money.

More Creative Ideas for a Home Business

You can start up a  home   business  with skills which other people don’t want to learn, but would prefer to pay you to do for them. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the unpleasant tasks, although if you enjoy the things most people hate to do, you could be in great demand.

People all over the world are getting busier and with the pressure to hold down a job in the face of a recession, commuting through heavy traffic and the constant need to update work-related skills, many people just don’t have time for things like housework, shopping and cooking. So, if you like these jobs, you could be in business fast.

Of course, tasks like this will mean you have to run a local business, rather than an internet business. but you can still set up a website to advertise and perhaps you can provide tips to help people get better organized.

There are plenty of more enjoyable things which people will pay you to do for them. So don’t despair if you hate housework.

If you like kids, there are plenty of ways in which you can earn money. Many parents are extremely concerned about standards in schools and will gladly pay for someone to tutor their child in a subject in which they are falling behind.

And working parents need to know their kids are happy and safe after school and during holidays. So if you can organize an after school club or vacation activities you could do very well.

Unusual activities which keep children occupied and add enrichment to their lives will be particularly popular.

If you like animals, you could look after them when their owners are on holiday or walk dogs when owners are at work. If a pet is ill, the owner may need someone to keep an eye on it or take it to the vet.

And you could combine pet sitting with house sitting. Many security conscious individuals feel a lot happier if someone is living in their home when they are away and if they have pets, this is a good solution for them too.

With all jobs involving other people’s property and especially their children, you will need to check the local regulations before setting up a business. These will vary from place to place and different rules will apply when you look after children in your own home.

If none of these suggestions appeal to you, just take a look around your environment and spend some time in cyberspace and you’ll come up with plenty more creative  business   ideas .

Work at Home Business Ideas

A new year means new money, especially for those who are seeking to earn an income online. This year promises to be very lucrative because the internet is expanding and offers us many avenues to make money. Here are just some work at  home   business   ideas  that will get you started.

Work at  home   business   idea  #1: Create an informative ebook! If you have vast knowledge about a subject (any subject) that people may be interested in, it is very possible that you can take that knowledge and write a short but informative ebook. It will take some brain storming but what doesn’t. Heres what you do. Find a common problem in a certain niche. Resolve the problem by writing an informative ebook and market the book towards that certain niche…cha ching!

Work at  home   business   idea  #2: Get your own domain name and start your very own website! Timing can be crucial for success and if done right, you can really cash in off of current events. For example, a fellow saw a chance and made his own website offering cut out Jessica Simpson masks. This was right after Tony Romo, the current Dallas Cowboys quarterback, had a horrible game reportedly because Jessica was in attendance. The fellow who created the website marketed the site with the masks to the next team the Cowboys played and a good percentage of fans were wearing his masks. Brilliant…cha ching!

Work at  home   business   idea  #3: There are many companies, programs, and individuals who are offering commissions to those who can help bring in sales or referrals. Affiliate programs offer these types of commissions. They normally provide all the training and tools you’ll ever need to succeed because the more money you make, the more they make also. What works best is to enroll your self in multiple affiliates and promote them on a free blog or your own website. These programs can be very nice because you can make residual income that could last for years and years…cha ching!

Other work at  home   business   ideas  include power malls, paid surveys, and web design. Whatever and whichever route you decide is ultimately up to you and the results you get are all determined upon how hard you work. A lot of people fail with a  home  based  business  because they really believe that it should be a free ride and they won’t have to work hard. They couldn’t be more wrong. To earn income from the internet and make a living from home you must treat this like a real business. People do make money online, you can too!

Home Business Ideas For 2010

In our recent downturn of the economy, people today are more open than ever to starting their own  home   business . Scarcity of jobs have divided people into two categories; the leaders and the followers. The followers will continue to wait out the storm in hopes that they can land a job. The leaders will look for creative ways to make a living anyway they can. (Legally of course.)

Today there are more opportunities to create fortunes from home than ever before. If you are the type of person that watches mainstream news, then these news will shock you! Here are the top 3 best  home   business   ideas  that you can start for little if any capital at all.

Here Are 3  Home   Business   Ideas  For 2010

#1. Telemarketing

Oh no he didn’t! Yes I did! Although telemarketers have a bad rep there are companies who are growing even stronger in this economy selling coaching programs. And we are talking $5K to $10k packages! I have a local friend who owns THE largest telemarketing floor in town. He currently employs over 200 people and some of them are making six figures a year. He even allows people to work from home if they are self motivators. The only thing you need is a phone with unlimited long distance, a script, a batch of leads and you’re in business! Do some research in your town, you may find a company who will do the same for you.

#2. Wheel And Deal On Craigslist.org

I know of many people who are making some real good money from home finding treasures on Craigslist. What they do is go to the “free” section and sort through things that are still in good shape. Then after they pick up the free stuff they clean it real good, then SELL it on Craiglist! I know to some it might be unethical, but hey it’s the American way right?

#3. Affiliate Marketing

Yes, we all have heard of affiliate marketing. We all have tried and failed. But you know what, affiliate marketing is hands down THE best way to make REAL money from home. You find products that interest you. You partner up with the company (most cases for free). You promote their products through different mediums, and collect a nice check for it! Yes you need to advertise. Yes it may take an investment to advertise. But there are numerous ways to advertise for FREE as well. Affiliate marketing has been, and will remain the best way to make a fortune. You don’t need products, you don’t need capital to start, and you don’t need any skill. All you need is motivation, and daily action. Most affiliate programs provide you with banners, sample ads, tools, and pretty much everything you need to start. Only thing they don’t provide you with is a computer, and anti-couch potato serum!

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed it please comment and rate my article. Thanks in advanced!

Gerardo Flores

A Customer’s Perception – Your Brand

What’s the “Breakfast of Champions”? Which cereal comes in a bright yellow box? Which company is associated with “Just Do It”? Cocoa Puffs cereal is aimed at what type of customer? Which car claims to be “the ultimate driving machine”? Which company is associated with golden arches?

As a customer or prospective customer, you have a certain perception or impression of all of these companies based upon their slogans or tagline, their unique selling proposition, their colors, their logo, their niche client, their benefit, their values, and their company name. All of these things make up a company’s brand.

As a   small   business  owner, your company name should ideally reflect what you do.

Example: Spotlight Home Staging

Your company tagline or slogan should be a catchy phrase that shows some benefit and forms an emotional connection with your buyer.

Example: Giving Your Home a Selling Role

Your company logo is the face of your brand. It is a sign, symbol, or stylized writing that identifies your company.

Example: Using Spotlight Home Staging with a spotlight shining on it.

Your unique selling proposition differentiates you from your competition.

Example: Spotlight Home Staging specializes in selling homes for customers who also need downsizing and move-in services.

Many  small   business  owners don’t communicate to their clients what’s unique about their products or services. The customer needs to know what you offer that your competitor does not so they buy from you.

Your niche client is the customer who needs your services and will pay for them.

Example: Spotlight Home Staging caters to active adults 55+ who are empty-nesters and downsizing.

There are  small   business  owners who don’t select a niche client. Their marketing efforts don’t focus on the customer who needs and will pay for their services. They are afraid that they will miss out on a client if they don’t reach out to everyone. Consequently, they don’t become the expert in their field.

Your benefit is why your customers should hire you. What’s in it for them?

Example: Spotlight Home Staging can take away all of those sleepless nights worrying about selling your home. Our staged homes sell quickly and for top dollar.

Probably the biggest mistake  small   businesses  make is stressing the features of their services and products instead of the benefits. What keeps your customer awake at 3am in the morning? What problems are they having? To be successful, you need to have the solution to their problem and communicate it well in your marketing materials.

Your values are the characteristics that make working with you a great experience. What do you want your customers to think of you?

Example: Spotlight Home Staging is dependable, professional, honest, knowledgeable, and dedicated to getting my home sold quickly and profitably.

Your brand is the core of your marketing. You can’t start networking, or sending out marketing materials, or developing a website until you have your brand in place.