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8 ways to grow your small business
Compare tips to expand — learn how to tell when it's the right time.
After you’ve established your business and are starting to feel cramped with your current setup, it might be time to grow. There are several ways to expand, from large investments like opening a new location to making small tweaks to your marketing strategy. But before you commit to any of these strategies, make sure your business is ready to take on that kind of responsibility.
8 strategies to grow your business
You might want to consider some or all of these strategies when you’re ready to take your business to the next level.
1. Research new niches in your market
Even if you’ve already done market research, take another approach to refresh the angle you’re taking. Market research can help you find gaps that your competitors aren’t filling. This can give you an idea of how to better serve your current customers, who might buy more of your products or services in return.
2. Find new uses for your product
If you have a product that can be used more than one way, make sure customers know about it. You might want to conduct a focus group or survey to find out if customers are already using what you sell for something else if it’s not obvious. Then invest in a marketing campaign highlighting this new use to expand your customer base.
3. Open a new location
Expanding to a new location can allow you to up production and serve new customers. This plan can come with some major costs, like hiring new staff, buying or renting real estate, purchasing equipment and more. Run some financial projections first before you make such a large investment. In some cases, it’ll more than pay for itself.
4. Invest in customer service
Another way to keep customers coming back is to build your reputation for customer service. Invest in a dedicated team, consider setting up more channels to get in touch — like adding live chat to your website — and respond to complaints on sites like Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau.
Also, consider investing in special training for employees who deal with customers — providing a good experience can build a loyal customer base.
5. Harness the power of social media
If you haven’t already, consider developing a social media strategy to reach more customers and promote your products and services. Explore your options including paid and unpaid content, collaborating with influencers and all the different types of media you can use to promote your business.
Also, consider which platforms are best for reaching your customer base. For example, if you’re selling something visually appealing, Instagram or Pinterest might be the way to go.
6. Collaborate with other businesses
Businesses that innovate through collaboration are more likely to report increases in productivity, as well as develop solutions that are new to the world. There are 4 factors for that go into making a collaboration successful:
- The ability to recognize and apply external knowledge
- Having a shared purpose that people believe in
- Mutual trust
- Strong leadership
If you can identify an opportunity — such as increasing efficiency by combining supply chains — and find another business with similar needs, then, if the 4 factors above are present, you might very well have an opportunity for mutually beneficial business growth.
Collaborations don’t just have to happen with other businesses. You can collaborate internally as well. The more your team members work cross-departmentally, the more likely it is that new ideas will come to life.
7. Wait for the right time
At the end of the day, the problem might be boiled down to your business failing to maximize its profit potential, and expansion may be the right solution. Increasing profitability is, after all, a form of growth.
If there are no specific problems that can be solved by growth, you might be better off waiting to make major changes. Your business needs to be able to afford the cost, which could include handling repayments if financing is involved.
8. Don’t be afraid to finance
Expanding your business often requires a hefty upfront investment. If you don’t have the cash on hand, you might want to take out a loan. In fact, growth is one of the top reasons businesses borrow.
Here are a few of your best options for financing:
- Business loans. These range in variety, including how much you can borrow and repayment periods. No matter what kind of business you own, you’re sure to find a business loan that fits.
- Business credit cards. A business credit card offers a few advantages if you’re spending on smaller investments, such as rewards or 0% APR periods. Plus, business credit cards will help keep your business expenses separate from your personal expenses.
These aren’t your only options. If your business has a promising financial history, there are other business financing options for small- and medium-sized businesses.
Compare business loans
Factor in the costs before expanding
No business owner can ignore costs. It’s sensible to expect considerable costs and reduced profits while your business adjusts for growth. Consider expenses like:
- Additional training, hiring expenses and other human resource costs
- Extra maintenance costs
- Increased overhead and logistics costs
- The potential loss of customers
- Loss of revenue as you transition
- Increased marketing expenses
- Financing charges like interest and fees
Should I expand?
Examine your business’s cash flow carefully and be ready for potential problems. Your expansion plan should include a clear time frame and a budget forecast in line with predicted industry movements over the next few years.
Prepare yourself by asking these 5 questions:
- Will growth improve the quality of my products and services? If you suddenly have more customers than you can handle, hiring a larger team can improve quality. But if you scale production without hiring staff, your business could suffer.
- Could growth increase my presence in the market? If your products are highly regarded and well received, that may indicate you’re able to increase your market presence.
- Will expanding impact my efficiency? Sometimes investing in new equipment or training could make your company more efficient. But sometimes adding more steps to your processes can slow everything down.
- Is my industry changing or innovating in a way I need to keep up with? If your competitors are expanding in a way that threatens your current operations, expansion might be a means of survival. It can also help you get a leg up on a new market.
- Has my business reached capacity? Businesses that are struggling to keep up with demand might need to expand in order to stay afloat. It also can help you secure larger, more profitable contracts.
Expanding your business should solve whatever problems your company is facing. Weigh the costs of growing versus the benefits you’ll reap to decide if jumping into an expansion project is worth it for you. Don’t be afraid to wait if your business will be overly burdened by a major growth project. But be ready to jump on making any changes your business needs to make to stay competitive and keep customers flowing in.
Learn more in our guide to increasing business profits to make sure you’re taking advantage of the options you have to operate successfully.
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