Planning a business expansion is an exciting time for any entrepreneur. While there certainly is a lot of work involved, the potential benefit to your business should be enough motivation for exploring the opportunities available.
Here are 20 top ways to expand your small business:
1. Get the Timing Right
Timing is everything in business. While only you can decide the best way to expand your business and the right time, here are some signs to look for:
- Business is booming and you don’t have the resources to fully capitalize on it
- Customers are looking for products and services that you don’t offer currently
- You have a lot of extra capital in reserves
- You’ve outgrown your location
- You could benefit from a profitable business venture
2. Learn from the Past
Analyze your company’s past results and critically assess your strengths and weaknesses. Have a clear understanding of where you can expand and how to maintain your competitive edge.
Ask yourself these questions and others:
- What lessons have you learned over the past quarters?
- How has business changed from year to year?
- In what areas has your business demonstrated sustained excellence?
3. Set Goals and Meet Them
Set clear, forward-thinking goals for your business expansion. To be successful as you expand, you need to determine which portions of your business need to be developed to reach your goals.
Consider that expansion for your business likely will be quite different from your neighbor’s company.
For example, a retailer may want to pursue expansion by increasing its brand footprint and selling products in other outlets. On the other hand, a pest-control business may see expansion as adding additional employees and equipment.
4. Make Your Brand Known
Your brand and business go hand in hand. Strive to increase your visibility to existing customers as well as potential ones you hope to attract. How do you go about doing this? Consider what forms of advertising you could use to reach your target market.
For instance, think about starting a blog or posting videos with tips that can benefit your target clientele. Improve your home page and optimize your website content. If you don’t have a website, create one by using a user-friendly platform, such as Wix, or hire a website developer.
Also, encourage your followers to promote your brand. Stimulate awareness in your company and products by encouraging clients to submit user-generated content (UGC), such as testimonials, photos and posts. Contests are a great way to inspire UGC.
Impact of User-Generated Content
According to Nielson, 92% of global consumers trust earned media, namely recommendations from friends and family, more than any other types of advertising.
5. Be Active on Social Media
Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube—you have so many social media channels at your disposal. And don’t forget about industry-specific social channels.
Use them to your advantage. Publish quality posts that people will want to click on. Reply to comments on a consistent basis. And be sure to share and like other posts as well.
Video Marketing Stats
According to HubSpot, 83% of consumers world-wide note YouTube is the preferred form of social media marketing.
And 70% of users view YouTube videos to get answers that can help them navigate a problem they’re experiencing. Show users how your brand can solve a problem.
6. Never Stop Promoting
As a business owner, your work is never really done. “Set it and forget it” doesn’t apply to you. Remain current in your audience’s minds by continually advertising your company and its products and services.
Find novel ways to promote your business within your community and online. Advertise special offers, features, promotions and more via email, on your website and through social channels.
7. Share Your Knowledge
One way to get your name out there and expand your business is to offer your advice to others. Share your subject matter expertise with potential and existing customers. Also, consider becoming a volunteer mentor with a nonprofit business organization, such as SCORE.
As we mentioned, leveraging social media is essential for businesses. Some ways to pass on what you know:
- Create a frequently-asked-questions section on your website
- Comment on web forums
- Provide insights on industry trends
- Submit how-to posts online
8. Analyze Your Finances
For any business to be successful and maintain that success, budgeting is paramount. Before you can expand your business, you need to have a firm grasp of your company’s finances, including your income and expenses.
It’s important to leave room in your budget for unforeseen expenses, too. When expanding, consider it better to overestimate costs than underestimate. Ultimately, you need to make sure the expansion makes financial sense for you.
9. Talk to Your Customers
The next best thing to having loyal, consistent customers is having people who want to become your customers. Get an idea of how much growth potential is available to you.
- Tap into your customer base and find out what products and services they’d like to see added and at what price point.
- Perform some market research by sending surveys through email or via social.
- You also can advise your employees to survey customers when they have them on the telephone.
10. Focus on Referrals
If you’re looking to expand, one no-cost way to help get your business where you want it to be is to actively ask for referrals, which can generate quality leads.
Reach out to past clients or businesses you work with. If you aren’t setting time aside to actively cultivate ongoing relationships with your top clients, consider doing so. This way, requesting referral business will be natural.
Ask current customers if they can refer someone and be sure to request they leave reviews online, such as Yelp or Trustpilot, telling others how great your business is. Also, get video testimonials and post them on your website or social media pages.
11. Form Strategic Partnerships
When you’re considering ideas to expand your business, think about aligning yourself with a company that complements your own.
Creating informal partnerships with businesses that cater to similar clientele can offer benefits to both businesses. Send business their way, while they send business to you. Entice clients and build your brand by offering discounts or promotions when they buy from both of you.
For instance, if you run a catering business, you could team up with a DJ. This would be a great way to get dual business when people are hiring for a special event, such as a milestone birthday party or a wedding.
Another way to expand your reach is to network with other business professionals and potential clients. Attend in-person networking events, maintain relationships with former colleagues and make contacts at social gatherings. Not only can you expand your business, but you can gain valuable insight from other professionals, particularly if they’ve had success with their own business expansion plan.
13. Contemplate Franchising
If you have a recognized brand that’s been successful and are looking to expand your business, franchising can come with advantages.
You can continue growing your brand by licensing your trade name and benefiting from franchise fees and royalties. Provide your franchisees with established business resources you’ve put in place to grow. Then they’re responsible for their everyday operations, all while building your brand name.
14. Be the Go-to Business for a Key Good
Have you noticed that one product or service you offer outperforms all others? If so, consider focusing on that niche.
Your customers are loyal and you know they’ll keep coming back. Let them know to spread the word that you’re the go-to resource in your community for that good or service. Plus, focusing on your top-seller can reduce costs involved with maintaining non-performing inventory.
15. Employ the Right Talent
There’s only so much time in a day and only so many things you can tackle at once. Maintain high customer service and business standards with the right group by your side.
Having knowledgeable, trusted employees who can support your goals when you aren’t there is vital, whether they’re entrusted with leading a new location or maintaining the same level of success with another team.
16. Consider Hiring Additional Staff
If you’re looking to expand, hiring more staff might make sense. For instance, if you’re currently unable to meet demand and there’s simply too much to get done in the time you and your customers expect, additional employees can help your business improve response time and customer deliverables.
When Hiring More Staff Could Make Sense
Let’s say you operate a flower shop and are planning business expansion into new territory. If you’re intent on offering expedited delivery, you’re going to need to hire more people and potentially add additional vehicles.
On top of the additions to equipment and employees, your logistics and inventory demands will be expanded, too.
17. Contemplate a New Space
The most basic requirement of a business expansion can sometimes come down to one simple question: do we have enough space? If your office has each co-worker stacked on top of each other or your store is bursting at the seams, expanding to a larger space may be your next step.
You also might consider expanding your business to another city or location. Keep in mind, this is a major move that requires planning as well as an analysis of your business and budget. Research all the additional costs involved, such as leases, business licenses, payroll and advertising before making a decision.
18. Manage Your Cash Flow
Funding business expansion is a capital-intensive process. Before you consider expanding, make sure you’re currently being paid on time, even if your business is experiencing an uptick in sales. You want to make sure you’re maintaining a steady cash flow.
Also, be sure to forecast your short- and long-term cash flow in terms of your business’s expansion efforts.
Once you begin expanding, analyze your cash flow throughout each step of your business’s expansion. Identify and address any potential problem areas.
19. Get the Right Financing
When you’re looking for the best way to expand business operations, sometimes you need capital. However, it can be challenging to know what type of financing is right for your company. If your funding needs are short-term, for instance, a long-term loan likely wouldn’t make the most sense because you’d be on the hook for years for an expense that ran just a few months.
When weighing lenders and loan types, determine what factors matter most to you. For instance, are you looking for one lump sum of funds or do you need flexible funding? Are you looking for the highest loan amount, or are you seeking the lowest interest rate? Once you’ve assessed your priorities, find a lender who will work with you to get you the financing you need.
20. Be Patient
Patience is a virtue. This wisdom applies to business as well. If you’ve only just begun experiencing success that outpaces your revenue forecasting goals, you’d be wise to tamper your ideas of global domination. However, if your profits have steadily increased year over year, you’ve likely found a winning formula worth testing in other markets.
A Final Word on Business Expansion
At its core, expansion involves a series of decisions designed to bring about change. While it’s a calculated risk, moving your business forward is one many entrepreneurs have done before and will do in the future.
To determine the best approach for you, identify the procedures and activities that you need to address to be successful.
Keep in mind, expanding a small business takes a considerable amount of effort, time, planning and working capital, but the rewards can be quite fruitful. Be sure to take a hard look at your business’s past and present, as well as what opportunities may await you with the right decision-making.