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Expanding your business doesn't have to mean outgrowing your home office.
Expanding your business doesn't have to mean outgrowing your home office. / Thinkstock/Getty Images/Comstock Images

If you’ve joined the ranks of kitchen-table entrepreneurs looking to turn creativity into cash, you will eventually have to make an important decision: Do you turn this sideline into a full-time business? Here’s what you need to consider:

Expanding your business doesn’t necessarily mean renting a storefront and hiring employees, says Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup. You can try “going medium,” increasing profits and serving more customers not by making your business bigger but by making it more efficient.

DIY or hire? Many home-business owners falter over nuts-and-bolts logistics like payroll, insurance and marketing.

Fear not, says creative entrepreneur Kari Chapin, author of Grow Your Handmade Business. There is a community of folks you can lean on. The local Small Business Administration or Chamber of Commerce can offer information, or you can look to technical courses. “Community college classes are a great way to learn the technical skills you might not have,” reports Chapin, from experience. She enrolled in a beginner Photoshop class so she could take control of her online and print marketing materials and found an unexpected benefit: “I was able to meet a lot of other like-minded small business owners,” who were chock full of advice for her.

“Sometimes you can’t afford not to pay other people,” advises Chapin. Doing so frees you up to do what you do best.

Goals vs. your gut: Expanding your business probably will mean more work, more time, more space. “You took on this business because you wanted a certain kind of life,” Chapin says. “If you’re not having that kind of life, you need to recalibrate, not just work harder. No one wants their business to feel worse than when they worked for someone else.”

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