At a certain point in one’s business ownership, it is inevitable that you will consider whether or not business expansion is right for you. As a business advisor and leader, I see business owners contemplate this decision often, and it is not one that should be taken lightly.
There are a number of questions you must ask yourself before deciding to move ahead with growing your company, and these questions require not only thought, but research and analysis of your current positioning. I’ve detailed three important questions below to get you started on your decision-making process.
1. What type of expansion is right for you?
Are you looking for internal growth, or have you considered acquiring another business? Be mindful of the fact that what will work for one company may not work for you. Though looking to other cases for reference is important, know that your business is unique and therefore your expansion plan must be custom suited to your needs. It is easiest to rule out the expansion options that are simply not plausible, whether it be in terms of time, money, or interest to pursue, and then to go from there!
2. Will your business benefit?
Business expansion naturally means increased risk. It is important to project what expansion will do for your business financially. If there are cost advantages associated with the growth, how long will they take to be realized?
Your customer base is also a crucial factor of consideration. Will your loyal customers stick with the business through the change, and even more importantly, will new customers be there once you’ve expanded?
3. Can you afford the change?
Depending on how you want to expand your business, ensuring it is financially feasible may not be an easy task. Business loans, while available, are not always easy to secure. If your expansion does not see the success you had anticipated, you are left indebted to lenders and your livelihood is at risk. Analyze all your financing options and be sure to understand the risks associated with each one.
These questions are just the beginning when it comes to the decision-making process involved with business expansion. Have you undergone an expansion? We’d like to hear of other considerations you had to make before your decision. Please share in the comments!
When it comes to seeing continued success in your business, you must keep growing, changing and making improvements. Many of these changes are slow and could require years to see the results of your work, such as a long-term financial or marketing strategy. There are some things you can start implementing today, however, that can improve your business and allow you to take a proactive approach to problems that may be obstacles to your success.
Take charge of your bookkeeping: Oftentimes, a lack of organization in your finances can become a root cause of a cash flow and budgeting issues. Finances can sometimes overwhelm a business-owner, especially for a smaller operation. When you fully own your bookkeeping and are intimately familiar with your budget, you can make decisions based on a full understanding of your financial situation. When working with your outside help, make sure you are constantly in the loop and up to date on everything they’re doing.
Make customer service your main priority: When was the last point of contact with your clients? Did you reach out with a phone-call or email? When was the last time you called a client just to check in? When you make customer service your main priority, your clients feel valued and want to continue working with you. They will share their experiences and this indirectly improves the value of your business. If something goes wrong – a communication error, less than amazing service, etc.- make it right by offering a discount or a free service, and an apology.
Avoid customer service mishaps by streamlining processes and having clear instructions: Oftentimes, customer service issues arise when instructions and processes are unclear, such as payment requirements, service details or deadlines. Ensure that you make your expectations and processes clear on the front end (in writing, on your website, in a contract) so that you do not have to remedy a situation with a confused and disgruntled customer later.
Have a plan for unforeseen circumstances: Spend some time taking inventory of the activities and materials that are vital to your business (even something as simple as Internet, databases, telephone, etc.) and then devising a plan of action to address any obstacles to continuing business as usual. This can save you time and money if and when a “disaster” strikes your business. Check out this blog post to learn how to create a Business Resumption Plan for your business.
Increase employee engagement: Your employees can become your biggest assets as brand advocates. Encourage them to be involved the business as much as possible, either by referring to them for their opinion, recognizing jobs well done, and encouraging a positive, social environment. When your employees believe in your message, this comes across to your potential clients. A happy employee is a productive one!
As you can see with this list of suggestions, you do not have to wait years or break the bank to see improvements in your business. What other tactics can you think of that can improve your business now? I look forward to your thoughts below.