If your business has reached a stage where it is steadily increasing its customer base and you feel as though you’ve outgrown your current business model it may be time for you to expand your business.
There are many different ways you can expand your business; you could hire more staff, move to larger premises, rent or buy other premises or even increase the range of products or services that you offer.
Before you do however, it’s important to ask yourself:
- How well is my business doing? Is this growth sustainable or temporary?
- How do I want my business to expand? Do I want to increase my range of services or produce more of an existing product?
- Do I have the finances to invest in more resources? Staff, materials, tools, programs?
- How will this affect my business? Is this going to be a good investment?
Once you’ve answered all of these questions and decided that this is the right decision for you to make, you need to consider the following:
Before your business has even reached a point where it is ready to expand, whether that be due to high demand or not – you should always have a growth strategy in place; a way of operating that allows you to constantly expand with little disruption to the running of your business. You want a scaleable model. It’s all about anticipating demand and having systems in place to deal with growth, otherwise things can fall apart; client’s needs are not met or employee’s roles become redundant after a short spout of growth and your valuable opportunity can be wasted on poor planning.
HIRING NEW STAFF
If you’re expanding you’re inevitably going to be creating new roles for people to fill. Keep in mind, this should always be a gradual shift that happens when you’re sure the position you’re hiring for is going to be necessary and permanent to sustain growth for your business. Consider how much you’re willing to spend and what you’re going to get out of your investment. Finances are always an issues with small businesses to it’s important you spend it wisely. If you’re hiring more sales staff – will this lead to more sales? Will this improve the productivity of your sales team or take away from it? What are the areas you actually need to expand and how many people (at minimum) do you need to achieve this? Each new employee must have a crucial role to fill or the money it takes to train and employ them is wasted.
And remember, hiring loads of new staff can really damage your productivity especially in the training phase. Don’t forget to make current employees feel secure and valued in their roles if you want to maintain a productive and positive working environment during this phase.
Freelancers vs. Full-Time
A popular trend emerging out of the business industry is hiring freelancers, interns and contractors. Why? Because they are much cheaper, they already have set expertise that they can easily apply to your roles, and they don’t come with any extra expenses such as annual leave entitlements, superannuation and holiday pay. They are a short term solution which can be ideal for companies in a testing phase where you can trial and adjust certain positions to see what’s really worth keeping. This allows you to keep your costs to a minimum.
Hiring a full-time employee however, comes with the benefit of security, their first priority will always be the work they are doing for YOU and they’re good for relationship building with your clients. Further, it’s far more simple for training purposes because it’s a one off process that usually results in loyalty to your business, and higher employee morale.
What should you actually be looking for in an employee? Above all else is almost always expertise, qualifications and experience. You’ll need to hire people that share a passion for the industry and express a real interest in your business and the work you do because they’ll be the ones that stick around. You’ll also want someone who is a quick learner, with initiative and drive – these are the people who will work hard.
DEVELOP YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Your products and services should be consistently delivered to your clients. This way as your business grows and changes and adapts, they know that the products and services will never be left behind in the process.
Focus on consistency when creating your products and services, especially when introducing new ones and find systems of production or ways of delivering a service that can do this effectively. This will strengthen your client loyalty and ensure that your business grows accordingly.
HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS AND SYSTEMS IN PLACE
Detailed training systems are so important for businesses when expanding because you need to communicate your goals, ideas and expectations to employees effectively in order for them to do their job. Although we often wish they could, they can’t read your mind and so the next best thing is having an effective training system and in place, that you’ve feel encompasses all of the things they will need to know for the job. You need to ensure your employees can carry out their tasks as efficiently as you.
And these systems are not just applicable for new employees either, all employees need effective workplace processes to operate effectively with one another.
This means things like internal messaging systems, training manuals, plans of action for different departments and growth systems, levels of responsibility – chains of command, a strong display of business cornerstones and values; all of this contributes to the ways in which your company grows and how effectively staff can help you deliver these changes.
An effective services management system should ensure you have control over all of your active projects, see who is assigned to each project and track their progress in an organised and systematic way.
We all know how varied each small business can be, which means that everyone needs individualistic systems in place that work for them. If you’ve put deep consideration into all of the above points you should be well on your way to creating an effective plan of action for the expansion of your small business.