Ask the Experts
Growing your business doesn’t necessarily mean increasing space or staff. It could mean venturing into an area of business you hadn’t thought about before. Two potentially lucrative options to consider are: government contracting and exporting. So where do you see your business a year from now? In five years? 10 years? What steps will you take to get there? Now is the time to answer these questions and to explore new avenues for expansion.
Plan for Growth
Don’t wait until you’re running out of room or resources to think about growing your business. As soon as the dust settles on your grand opening, the time is right to start laying the foundation for your firm’s expansion following these five steps:
1. Revisit your business plan from time to time. Look carefully at the business plan you opened with. What do you know now you didn’t know then? What new goals/plans come to mind as a result? Have you realized your expectations and if not, why not? Which supporting documents need to be updated?
2. Fine tune your operations. Is your business operating at peak efficiency? Do you have the necessary tools/space to meet current and future needs? What else do you need and how will you pay for it?
3. Rate your team. Have you prepared written job descriptions for all positions? Do you have the right people in place? What types of training programs are you able to provide? Do you have a plan for attracting/hiring new personnel?
4. Enlarge your market. Are you reaching all possible markets for your product or service? Is your marketing budget adequate and are your promotional strategies working? If you answered no to either question, what adjustments will you make?
5. Assess your financial fitness. Have you reached your breakeven point? What’s your cash flow situation? Can you afford to expand now? If not, what measures will you take to make a future expansion financially possible?
4 signs you’re ready to expand
If you’ve kept up with your homework – i.e., followed the steps listed above – you’ll know when the time is right. To be absolutely certain, keep an eye out for these four sure signs that your business is ready to expand:
1. You are enjoying a steady stream of repeat customers. A sudden surge in customers may be due to the season or to increased demand for a short-term specialty product. But if you see an upward trend in visits by regulars over several months, the time may be right for expansion.
2. Your customers have encouraged you to expand. What do your customers say? Are they requesting products or services you don’t yet provide? Longer hours? A second location? These could be indications that it’s time to grow.
3. Your bottom line looks healthy. Take a good look at how much money your business is earning after you pay your bills. Have you made a profit for several months in a row? If so, why not consider investing some of that money to grow your business?
4. You have more business than you can handle. Are you turning business away? Working way too many hours? If this is not the result of poor management but of too much business instead, then it’s time to grow. Hire more workers and/or find a new space.