Many businesses frequently jump too quickly into growth mode, without first contemplating the complications, costs, or trends within the market.
Don’t get me wrong, expansion is by no means a bad thing. I mean, who isn’t launching their business with growth in mind? And when it’s done the right way, it can propel you towards new levels of success and profitability. The true danger lies in tackling expansion too early on in your process! Your business first needs to be ready for growth. And you also need to make sure that customer satisfaction, quality, and internal and external operations can hold on through the process.
A business is a complex machine, and there are numerous factors to take into account when deciding whether or not expansion makes sense for you at the time. Do you have a promising and loyal customer base? Have they been asking for new products or easier accessibility to them? Has your business been profitable for the past few years? Is your industry or market growing? Do you have a solid and steady cash flow? Do you seem to have more business than you can effectively manage? If you answered “yes” to any, or all, of these questions — the time might just be ripe!
Once you decide that it’s “show-time”, you then have to figure out the way in which your growth will materialise. Some of the typical growth paths include: Expanding your offerings, developing and launching an e-commerce website, offering loyalty rewards or programs, and looking into franchising.
Having said this, you constantly need to be aware of some common risks related to business expansion. Make sure that your customer service and your current offerings won’t take a knock with all the focus on your new growth side. Also ensure that you’re hiring smartly, putting correct online security measures in place, and taking care of all the necessary small details involved before you go straight to jumping in. Clear-cut planning and organisation is key!
So, once you’ve reached the conclusion that expansion makes sense for you, and you’ve done all the relevant research — what next? These three crucial steps will surely guide you through a smoother and successful growth chapter:
Before starting out with all the relevant expansion steps, you need to figure out your core vision and mission. You will use this as a guiding light to make any critical expansion decisions. Bear in mind that any new product or dive into a new market should feel like a natural extension of your mission. Scrutinise your products and services, and brainstorm new, potential ways that your company could branch off into something new and related.
If you already have a successful and proven core business, you already have momentum and presence; so there’ll undoubtedly be interest in your next move. Keep your core purpose front of mind, but don’t be afraid to innovate, evolve, and move with the times.
Sometimes, finding the answer to successful expansion might just involve getting feedback from your existing customers. Discover their main needs — why it is they buy your product or service, and how they feel you could improve upon things. You may learn that they’re travelling far and wide to buy your product, or you’re consistently shipping to a particular market. These are examples of tell-tale signs that expansion is imminent.
You really need to realise the importance of listening to your customers and understanding what will be needed to transcend their expectations. Without your customer at the core, you’ll pretty much be driving something irrelevant.
Naturally, more business means you’ll need more people to handle your daily tasks and new demands. You should invest in taking on a few extra staff members to take care of the added load and help you crush the new challenges that will inevitably arise. As the onboarding process takes time, you should do this well in advance of your planned expansion so as to make sure everything is already running smoothly once it starts.
Try and test your new employees with as much hands-on experience as possible. Your goal should be for them to truly gain as much insight into the larger purpose behind their work as possible, as well as understand real customer perspectives to assist in guiding the company as it continues to grow.
The truth is: Growth can put your business under just as easily as it can skyrocket your revenue… The key is to meticulously plan and plot your expansion by looking into all your options, paying attention to customer feedback, and always remaining true to your core vision and mission!
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