The thing about being a small business owner is that small is a super general word. Small can mean tiny, as in just you, or it can mean large, like you and 50 employees.
So how do you go from being a tiny small business to a large small business?
One step at a time, of course.
Here are five fields where people have seen success, putting one foot in front of the other, growing from a teeny tiny small business to a large and broad small business.
1. Home Organizing
Home organizing is something you can start from your very own home.
If you have a passion for cleanliness and order, you may find your niche in this field.
Home organizing can include space design, decluttering and reorganizing an existing space, time management tools, and ongoing consultation in managing busy lives and hectic schedules.
Famously, Marie Kondo does just this. She had a passion for tidiness and at the age of 19 she opened her small business.
Her name began to spread in Japan because of her effectiveness and her unique philosophy. After several years she wrote a book about this philosophy which became famous in Japan. It was translated into different languages, including English and German, giving her international fame. Marie then used media platforms to broaden her reach, making her a global brand.
Let’s break down Marie Kondo’s path to success into four clear, organized steps:
- Explore your passion
- Open your small (tiny) business
- Share your knowledge and experience
- Use broad platforms to spread your influence
That’s it! Move all the other clutter out of your brain, focus on these steps, and you’ll be able to accomplish great things.
2. Specialty Catering
This category covers several roles we might recognize from the food services industry, including personal chef, meal provider, meal planner and even event caterer.
Heidi Finley was passionate about fresh, healthy food from a young age. She started her MavenMeals business as a one-chef operation with the goals of providing healthy, locally sourced meals to busy people in the Seattle area… and now she employs a team of workers and provides meals to individuals as well as stocked fridges to businesses who want to give their employees healthy lunch and snack choices.
After seeing how well received her original meals were, and by tapping into the trend of fresh and healthy eating, Heidi was able to grow her business far beyond her starting point.
Let’s examine her recipe for success:
- Explore your passion
- Find a hole in the market or an unsolved problem (busy people don’t have time to cook, but takeout food is usually unhealthy)
- Give your market what it wants
- Once you’ve established yourself with one market (individuals, in Heidi’s case), look for another market into which you can naturally expand (businesses)
Now throw that on the fire and let it simmer a little bit. Wow, this is making me hungry…
So many people are using gardeners today. There are the traditional lawns that need grass grown and mowed, homesteaders growing edible plants in their backyards, and apartment dwellers who are turning their porches and roofs into small jungle paradises.
With gardening, you can start with mowing lawns and pruning hedges and build up to consulting on huge garden masterpieces, employing a team to do the work.
Or you can take a different route to build a small business in the gardening niche, like California Gardening. Their tagline is “organic, sustainable gardening all year long.” Small gardening businesses tend to be local, but California Gardening found a way to use their passion to reach, serve and sell to customers all over the USA.
How do they do it? California Gardening runs a YouTube channel where they offer valuable information about how to grow your own organic vegetables and plants year-round. They then direct the viewer to Amazon, where they sell recommended garden supplies.
California Gardening may never weed a client’s garden, but their small business keeps beautiful gardens growing nationwide. And they’re not done finding ways to grow. Soon they’ll be opening up a seed store!
Let’s take a closer look at what they did and how you can do it too:
- Explore your passion (are you sensing a pattern yet?)
- Be flexible and creative in how you monetize that passion (the most obvious way isn’t always best)
- Set yourself up as an authority by spreading your knowledge
- Pick the right channel on which to share (if you’re teaching some kind of craft – like gardening – a visual channel will be much more effective than a text-only channel)
- Ask yourself what else you could be providing your customers
- Expand to other avenues and channels in your niche
Then watch as you grow, baby, grow!
4. Personal Trainer
Another fantastic field that is so in demand now is personal fitness. Many personal trainers start off working in a gym before choosing to branch out on their own. After starting your own business you can choose to keep your clientele small or pack your days full of sessions. You can take on clients and hire other trainers to create a team, or open your own studios or gym.
Sounds awesome, right?
Gunnar went the more corporate route, building his clientele and then opening a gym and working for teams and companies. Jennifer chose to build her schedule around her clients, maintaining the one-on-one flavor of her business. Both are successful and happy.
How can you play their game and win at it?
- Build your clientele one at a time
- Know what you like best about the field: is it working one-on-one, building that personal relationship and taking joy in your client’s progress? Is it the thrill of creating an environment where people are giving it their all? Use that awareness to guide the shape of the personal training business you build
- Always bring your ‘A Game’
- Treat every client like a celebrity
If you follow that list, everything is sure to work out!
P.S> If fitness is your passion, you don’t necessarily need to develop your own unique exercise method. You can just as effectively “piggyback” on the success of other known and established methods and become a Beachbody Coach.
5. Interior Design
While interior design used to be a service only the wealthy used, now everyone wants a designer. All the innovative design concepts that have developed in the last 20 years, combined with our millennial inability to make decisions, has brought interior design to the masses!
Not only do interior designers design the aesthetics of a house, to whatever degree their clients want, but they also often have the ability to design floor plans. Many designers operate in niche areas like budget or high end and tout specialties like Zen, Green or Feng Shui design, making it easier for customers to find them and for them to find their customers.
Rebecca Robeson has been an interior designer for more than 20 years. She started out small and now has a firm with a whole team that not only design spaces, but also has a YouTube channel with over a million subscribers! She credits her success to her ability to really listen to clients. After all, nobody wants to live in a house that doesn’t feel like home!
The firm is also now expanding into creating home furnishings that reflect their style and beliefs. Good luck to them!
Here’s how to bang it out like Becky:
- Be responsive and attentive to each client. When you’re interacting with a client, she should be the only one on your mind
- Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your aim is to create something that your client thinks is beautiful – even if you personally wouldn’t want to live there
- Develop your unique style and let it shine through every one of your marketing platforms
- Expand to other avenues and channels in your niche (from space design to home furnishings, in this case)
Growing your small design business never looked so pretty!
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
These 5 ideas are just examples of what’s out there and just how possible it is to take your passion and make it pay. These innovative leaders in their fields have found success by starting small, working hard, thinking big and jumping on and creating opportunities for expansion.
Now it’s your turn. On your mark, get set, go!