By: First Union
Thinking of Expanding? 5 Steps Your Business Should Take
Even though the economy may seem sluggish right now given the current situation, that doesn't mean that your small business shouldn't think ahead. We will come out of this, and what's more, some companies may be poised to do so in a big way. This might be a great time to start considering expanding your business. Depending on your sector and market, in a post-pandemic climate, there could be more of a demand for the products/services you provide.
The key to any form of business expansion is to be smart about it. That is to say, you don't want to merely rush ahead without a solid plan in place. If suddenly you begin hiring on numerous employees, purchasing expensive equipment, even relocating to a larger office, you could find yourself in trouble before your expansion plans get underway. Many a company has gone bankrupt and/or closed for good because they failed to take the necessary steps to ensure successful expansion. And especially given the circumstances we're facing now, you want to take the time to plan and do your due diligence when it comes to how, when, and in what way exactly you intend to expand your small business. Below are five tips that may help you tackle any sort of expansion more smoothly and without hitting major roadblocks.
Get a handle on your company culture
Having a strong and well-defined company culture is critical, particularly when you are considering expanding your business model. You want everyone to be on the same page. This is a great time to get feedback from your team members, include them in the conversation. A couple of things you might ask yourself as well as those who work for you:
- Why was the company founded, to begin with?
- What do we do and why do we do it how we do?
- What fundamental beliefs does the company adhere to?
- What are our company values?
- What is our vision moving forward?
The more connected your employees feel to overall company culture, the better position you will be in terms of growth. Not to mention, having that well-defined company culture is a natural draw for customers. They want to know your values, what you believe in, and what direction you intend to move in. Make sure that statements regarding company culture are included in all marketing materials and social media platforms. Let potential consumers connect with you on a deeper level as you prepare for expansion.
Assemble a good team
For any company, hiring the right people can make all the difference in the world. Assemble a team that just doesn't fit together quite right or that clashes with company values and ultimately your business is bound to suffer, perhaps even fail altogether. You want to spend some real-time parsing through potential candidates, understanding how they might fit into the overall picture, identifying those talents and skills that your company needs. Also, if you are planning to expand, think about how a certain person might contribute to the growth process. Perhaps they have expertise when it comes to organizational change and expansion and can thus be a great asset to have during such a transitional period. You want those people who will not back down from challenges and who will consequently steer your company in the right direction.
Innovate where/when necessary
It is often tempting when companies expand for them to dump a ton of money into innovating their products and even adding more products to the lineup. The thing to keep in mind with any form of expansion though is that perhaps innovation should be applied to other relevant areas. That is to say, you might focus instead on innovating as far as customer service. Do you have online chat experiences? How about how you track customer data? Because there is some element of uncertainty when going through a growth period, you want to make sure you have stability—customers represent that stability. Before launching a brand new product line, solidify your base first and then go from there.
Build a buzz around your brand
Your brand is everything. This is what customers see, this is their experience of your business. It needs to be defined everywhere. As you do go through a transitional period, ensure that you are working on building that brand recognition. You want customers to instantly understand who is behind your logo or tagline for instance. Social media is a great way to begin and/or continue the brand-building process. It is inexpensive and of course, has major visibility.
Pay attention to existing customers
As with most expansions, you are certainly going to be focused on attracting new customers. However, the problem here is that in doing so, numerous business owners tend to relegate those existing customers to the background. They lose sight of customer retention and this is one of the worst things you can do especially if you are looking to grow the company. Keep in touch with the existing customers; make sure that they do feel valued regardless of what stage your company expansion is in. You might even want to conduct a survey and get their feedback regarding your plans—this could be helpful information.
Business expansion can be a very exciting thing. Again though, the important thing to remember is that you have to have a plan going in. You have to be careful about your expenditures, and you need to maintain operations without going overboard. If you are thinking about expanding your small company, whether now or in the future, First Union Lending would love to assist you. Our loan programs are designed with small businesses in mind. With short term loans and lines of credit among other such programs, we have a financial solution that will help you realize your business dreams!