Growing Your Business in 2011

Hopefully 2010 has been a good year for you and your business, leaving your bank account full, your customers happy, and you thinking about how to grow in 2011.

The decision of what to do next can be a tough one. Basically it all boils down to a couple of options:

  • Keep doing what you’re doing, but get more customers
  • Start doing something new, and use that to get more customers

The first choice is admittedly the conservative one. For younger businesses, it can often be the right choice. Startups need to be good at what they do before doing something else. Many would-be entrepreneurs fail at this; they spend their resources chasing down things that might pan out instead of committing to the single thing that got them started in the first place.

Established businesses, on the other hand, often have the freedom and flexibility to try something new. They have the capital on hand to branch out without taking on too much risk, and they’re in the perfect position to recognize unique business opportunities that they are poised to take advantage of.

But what does that mean? Where do I start?

If you own an accounting firm and your business comes from filing taxes for small- to mid-sized companies, opening up a greeting card shop probably isn’t the best idea. But what about starting to do taxes for individuals? What about offering asset management or more financial consulting?

A wedding planner might not want to jump right into handling all of the floral arrangements, but might want to branch out into other events like bar and bat mitzvahs and corporate events.

The best thing for a company to do is to ease into something that fits naturally. Think about your current competition, as well as vendors that you may work with. Think about what else customers might need when they come to you. Think about what else your company might be able to do easily and do well with the assets that you already have. Natural extensions of your current business are most likely going to have the most success—and cause you the least headache.

But I don’t want to hurt the company I already have!

A common concern is the possibility of tarnishing the current company’s reputation. Every business owner ought to have a deep respect and sense of duty to their brand, and sometimes adding a whole new service doesn’t make sense with that brand.

For example, If Bob, the owner of Bob’s Roofing, LLC, wants to start doing siding, does he need to change his company to Bob’s Roofing and Siding? Or should he start Bob’s Siding? And, if he decides to start Bob’s Siding, does he need to file a separate LLC for that company?

So what do I do?

Simple: start a new company! Don’t worry; it’s easy.

Instead of setting up an entirely new entity, you can just work with your current company. Basically if you already have a business registered with the state—a corporation or LLC—or if you’re simply an individual looking to operate as a sole proprietorship without the hassle of incorporating, a simple filing known as a DBA allows you to Do Business As a name other than the one you’ve registered. Depending on your state, a DBA may also be known as a(n):

  • Assumed Business Name / ABN
  • Assumed Name
  • Business Certificate
  • Fictitious Business Name / FBN
  • Fictitious Firm Name
  • Fictitious Name
  • Trade Name

Filing a DBA is a fast, easy, and affordable way to allow your company to take on a new type of business under a name that fits that business. Now’s a great time to file a DBA. You’ll be able to start 2011 with one important step, knowing exactly how you plan to expand your business.

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