Expansion is a dream for most entrepreneurs. Growing a business from its grassroots is an enormously rewarding process and, of course, can be lucrative in the right environment. It’s sometimes difficult to know when the time is right to scale your business to the next level, but if you’re exceeding profits every quarter, have more customers than you can reasonably service, and have identified a gap in the market, now might be the time to take the plunge.
1. Hire smartly
Hiring new staff is natural as you expand, but it’s important not to rush. Hire to fill gaps rather than push up numbers. As your business scales up, it also changes shape. Different areas will come under new pressures. You might find that you’re struggling to keep up with deliveries, and order fulfillment is a problem. The cybersecurity team may be charged with bolstering your network or customer services might struggle to keep up with demand.
2. Leverage free marketing
Expansion is expensive, even more so if it involves new premises and hiring new staff. While it makes sense to scale up your advertising budget, too many businesses imagine that they’ve outgrown free marketing methods. Organic reach on social media remains the best way to reach customers, and it’s easy to come by. The right post frequency, content, and hashtags generate free traffic, so it’s worth assigning at least one person (or even a small team) to your social media platforms.
3. Save time using the right software
Time-saving software is one of the most valuable things you can invest in. As your business grows, so too do the demands on staff. The more automation you can put in place with software like automatic payroll and chatbots, the less the burden on employees. That frees them up to focus on growth. Contract lifecycle management can be a lifesaver for expanding businesses. It allows them to seamlessly monitor their contracts, ensuring that they aren’t out of date and comply with all the latest regulations.
4. Don’t forget about your niche
Regardless of the kind of business you run, you will have a niche. When you expand it’s natural to consider other areas, but never lose sight of your core business model, aims, and that all-important niche. Your customer base was built up with certain expectations. Don’t abandon them as you seek to push into new areas of the market.
5. Look at the data
Data is your best friend as you increase the size of your business, and there are lots of ways to gather it. Social media allows you to harvest all kinds of information about your audience including their age, location, and time spent online. Surveys and feedback forms are useful, and there’s plenty of software that will gather data from email lists. Analyze all this data carefully to form conclusions about your customer base and identify trends that could be useful going forward.
6. Learn from the competition
Look at similar businesses and try to understand how they grew. You might identify specific actions, an overall strategy, or just subtle shifts in the way they operate. No two businesses are the same, of course, but an understanding of the competition is always useful as you move forwards.