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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2353 - August 23, 2010 - ISSN 1539-5065    4 of 4

For Many Online Sellers, Smaller Is Better, Part 2: Four Tips

By Greg Holden
EcommerceBytes.com
August 23, 2010




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The moment you start generating business, the impulse is to keep doing the same things that brought you success and start growing. But as you learned in my previous column, some successful entrepreneurs believe it's best to resist the urge to grow indefinitely and stay small and manageable instead.

Once you have a client base and a successful business plan in place, how do you stay small? Four businesspeople provide practical suggestions, based on their own experience:

1) Focus on one good product.
Jaime Cevallos invented a special MP30 baseball training bat, which he uses for training and teaching hitting systems. He says that over time, he's learned that "Sometimes, it's better to go it alone."

Cevallos said he tried to add a business partner a while back but "that made things way too difficult," he says.

"In the first two years of my business, the second I got a little money in the account, I would spend it on projects that I'd been thinking of. I'm a little too excited about the ideas in my head. Instead of focusing on what I had - the training bat - I was always looking ahead at all the new ideas I couldn't wait to start."

After he had spent about $4000 and considerable time and energy promoting two other training aids, he realized he had to put the secondary products on the back burner and focus solely on the MP30. "My main product has remained the same since the start of my company," he explains. "The only other product that I've added (despite the many different ideas) in the 3 and a half years since I started my company is my book." He now markets both his book, Positional Hitting, and his bat at TheSwingMechanic.com - virtually all by himself. Still, he admits it's tough to avoid thinking about expanding.

"While I spend more time than I used to on promoting my current products, I can't help but look ahead and plan my next. It's why I'm passionate about my business and it's what will make my business great."

2) Outsource when needed.
For Rob Walling of SoftwareByRob.com, the time and effort required to hire, train, and manage employees is a "time vortex." Instead, he outsources "everything except my core competencies" so he can focus on his business.

Or rather, businesses: Walling provides a Web site that lets people create and share their weddings (weddingtoolbox.com), a provider of small business invoicing software (dotnetinvoice.com), and runs a niche job Web site (apprenticelinemanjobs.com). He does it all with the help of several virtual assistants and contractors.

"I've made a conscious decision to keep my businesses small in order to avoid the time vortex of employees," comments Walling. "Hiring, firing, benefits administration, training, and management are a huge time investment for a solo entrepreneur, and I find that outsourcing everything except my core competencies means I have more time to focus on growing profit, not head count."

Walling has even turned his business approach into a saleable product: a book for software and Web developers entitled "Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup."

3) Stick with word of mouth.
Jurgen van Pletsen runs a small Perth, Australia-based transcription service PerthTranscription.com in addition to his "day job." His goal is to supplement is income and provide a useful service to his clients. "Whilst I could easily scale the business , I prefer to remain small and work only on a referral basis," he says.

Jurgen also gets his business solely through referrals which, he says, produces "much more trust on all sides." This means he doesn't have to create a complex Website to try to convince customers to use his service.

"As long as my process is streamlined there is very little overhead to deal with," van Pletsen says.

4) Focus on what you love.
Shel Horowitz has been an entrepreneur since 1981, when he founded his business as a home-based typing service with no outside employees (though he later employed freelancers for some of the typing). Nearly three decades later, the business is still home-based, but he has graduated to employing a part-time Virtual Assistant. His focus has changed to encompass marketing consulting and copywriting, book publishing consulting, speaking, and consulting on going Green - serving clients throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. He's also written books such as "Guerilla Marketing Goes Green." You can read more about Horowitz's business philosophy on his blog.

"While I am trying to grow my reputation to the point where I can successfully syndicate a column, I expect to remain home-based and have a maximum of one employee for many years to come," says Horowitz. "I am quite firm that I run a business to enjoy life, and not the other way around. Yes, I could probably make more money working more hours and bringing in employees - but I don't want the stress and I'm certainly not starving."

That's the bottom line for any businessperson, whether you have been in business for three hours or three decades: focus on what you love to do, manage growth sensibly, and you'll have a success for years to come.

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About the Author
Greg Holden is AuctionBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.

About the author:

Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.

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